A resurgence can be defined as a revival, recovery or comeback after a period of inactivity.
That definition fits the Union Post 297 Junior Legion baseball team perfectly.
After several years without a Legion team of its own, Union pieced together a squad once again this season.
“It’s been a few years since we’ve had a team, so it’s nice to be out here,” Union Manager Ryan Bailey said last week. “And it’s nice to have it be all Union kids. Hopefully we can keep building the program the next several years.”
It’s definitely been an impressive resurgence for Post 297, too.
Union enters the postseason with a 31-7 record. Post 297 is also on a 17-game winning streak.
“When we came into the season we thought we’d be decent,” Bailey said last week. “But it’s surprised us a little bit how well we’ve played. Where we’re at right now is pretty dang good. It’s really been a fun season.”
Union began the season by winning eight of nine games. The team was 12-2 before dropping four out of five in its only little slump.
“We hit a little bump in the road in the middle of the season (going 1-4), but that was the week when a lot of the guys had basketball camp,” Bailey said. “We were missing some guys and other guys were just tired.”
Since a June 18 loss to the Rawlings Tigers, Union has won 17 straight games.
With that, Post 297 has gone from a squad just wanting to gain some experience to a team that is one of the region’s best.
“Overall, we’ve been really happy with our team,” Bailey said. “Our pitching has been really good and our hitting has been a little up and down. But the guys have learned more about the game, too. And they’re getting 80 to 90 at-bats they might not have gotten in years past. That’s beneficial for sure.”
There’s still something to play for, as well. Union hopes to make some noise in the postseason.
Post 297 went 19-3 in Ninth District play, behind only Elsberry (20-2). This week’s district tourney will be hosted by New Haven and Washington.
“We’d like to do something,” Bailey said. “We’ve played good baseball. We like to think we can play with Elsberry and everyone else. We’re pretty confident.”
And no matter what happens in the postseason, Union has had a season to remember.
Of course, the Legion team’s resurgence should benefit the high school program, too.
“We’re going to have a lot of confidence going into the next high school season,” Bailey said.
Union has received solid contributions from everyone in its lineup this season.
A look at Union’s season stats (before the final four games) shows that Nick Eads is leading the team in batting average at .368, while Ethan Hughes (.346), Blake Pickard (.324), Kendall Sheler (.292), Dillon Breeden (.286) and Justin Mentz (.283) are other top hitters. Eads and Pickard lead the team in hits (30 apiece), while Mentz, Nick Kretzler, Breeden, Sheler and Mike Wachter lead the team in RBIs. Eads, Wachter, Breeden and Emmett Parker are top run scorers.
As far as the pitching staff, Hughes has five wins, while Jerod Mattingly, Bobby Curnutte and Wachter all have four wins. Drew Reed has three wins and a 1.54 ERA, while Wachter has a 1.05 ERA. Others who have been key pitchers are Chris Griffin (1.29 ERA), Breeden (1.27) and Sheler (2.84 ERA).
Mattingly leads the staff in strikeouts with 39, while Wachter has 34 in only 20 innings. Sheler and Hughes both have 28 strikeouts apiece and Reed has recorded 25. Others who have contributed are Trenton Kranz, Tate Ball, Tanner Bunch and Kieran Watson.
The team has also been solid defensively, with Parker and Wachter up the middle, Eads at third, Sheler at first and Reed behind the plate. Pickard, Breeden and Kretzler have been mainstays in the outfield.