What was hotter Thursday — the temperature or the Washington Post 218 Junior Legion offense?
Washington (24-5, 18-3) rolled up 20 runs in a 20-0 five-inning victory on the road at Ninth District foe North Thursday afternoon.
The 20-0 win came on the heels of Monday’s 41-0 victory on the road at Sullivan.
“Our bats continued to stay hot last night against the North Knights,” said Post 218 Manager Phillip Kleekamp.
“We preach to the boys to look for a certain pitch early in the count and take advantage of it,” Kleekamp said. “They have been waiting for their pitch and driving the baseball extremely well over the last week, and you can see the improvement in the amount of runs we have been scoring.”
Kleekamp said it’s been a season-long project to improve the offense.
“Our bats have progressed so much since the start of the season over a month ago,” Kleekamp said. “The boys have really taken the approach we have been teaching in stride and have continued to get better each week, which has always been our goal. If a player has not improved on some aspect of their game every week, we have not done our job as a coaching staff.”
Things have come together in this week’s games.
“This week they have definitely made us look good,” Kleekamp said. “We have been getting contributions throughout our lineup. If we can continue that trend for another couple of weeks, we could be a tough matchup for any team in the state.”
Post 218 continues its season Friday night with an 8:30 p.m. game against De Soto at home. Washington leaves the friendly confines of Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field again Sunday for its regular season finale, a league game against Daniel Boone at C&H Park.
The Sunday game is extremely significant in the league standings. Daniel Boone is 19-4 overall and 13-3 in the league as of Friday morning. Daniel Boone would have to win out to overtake Washington for the regular season title and the top seed in the upcoming district tournament.
Both Elsberry and Hannibal have two losses in league action.
Daniel Boone has taken two of three games so far this season from Washington with both wins coming in the Post 218 Memorial Day Weekend Tournament. Washington won the first league contest.
Winning the regular season title is extremely important to the playoff aspirations of all teams. The Ninth District regular season winner qualifies for the Zone 1 Tournament. The event will be hosted by the Ninth District Tournament winner.
Should the same team win both the regular season and district tournament titles, it will host the Zone Tournament and the second-place finisher in the district tournament also advances as a Ninth District representative.
The other teams in the Zone 1 Tournament will be the winner of the District 1 Tournament between Hannibal and Memphis and the winner of the District 2 Tournament between Trenton and Chillicothe. While Hannibal has played in the Ninth District during the regular season, it will contest the District 1 tournament title for a chance to continue in the playoffs.
The state tournament will be held in Blue Springs with four zone winners and Blue Springs playing for the state crown.
In Thursday’s game at Francis Howell North High School, Post 218 scored once in the first inning and exploded after that.
Washington added seven runs in the second, four in the third, six in the fourth and two in the fifth inning.
Washington outhit North in the game, 14-3, and took advantage of 13 walks. North made the only three errors in the game.
Kleekamp took advantage to use 12 different players in the game either at the plate or on the hill.
Grant Ruediger went the distance, earning the win. He allowed three hits and one walk while striking out five North batters.
“Although our bats have been particularly effective the last two games, our pitching has been just as dominant,” Kleekamp said. “Grant Ruediger followed up Teddy Harrison’s no-hit performance on Monday in Sullivan with a three-hit shutout of his own. Grant added another solid outing to the stat sheet last night. He was able to get ahead of most batters and didn’t have any problems hitting his spots. I don’t think any balls that were put in play were hit particularly hard. Grant was able to use his curveball especially well to keep North’s hitters off balance. They only had a few quality swings throughout the five-inning affair.”
With the win, the Hermann High School pitcher improved to 5-0 on the season.
“Grant is quietly leading our pitching staff in wins,” Kleekamp said. “He is a key part of our pitching staff and will be relied on to continue his winning ways in the district tournament.”
Offensively, Brian Trigg led the way with three hits, four runs, two RBIs, a walk and a stolen base.
Anthony Chance contributed two hits, including a triple, two runs, three RBIs and two walks.
Tyler Straatmann had two hits, one run, four RBIs and two walks.
Luke Knight posted two hits, one run, two RBIs and a walk.
Ross Seitter had one hit, two runs, three RBIs, a walk and a stolen base.
Sam Katzung contributed a hit, a run and a walk.
Todd Kleekamp chipped in with one hit, two runs, three RBIs, a walk, a sacrifice fly and two stolen bases.
Aaron Meyer posted one hit, three runs, two walks and a stolen base.
Justin Schuler tripled, scored three runs, drove in one and walked. He also was hit by a pitch.
Teddy Harrison walked and scored.
Scott Byrne also played.