JOPLIN — Following a disappointing loss to Glendale to open the American Legion State Junior Tournament, Washington Post 218 took its frustrations out on the host team.
Post 218 dominated the Joplin Miners (18-16) in every area of the game, cruising to a 21-0 victory in five innings.
“Our boys were a little disappointed with the first go-around. We almost felt bad for the next team we faced,” said Post 218 Manager Phillip Kleekamp. “We played one of our worst few innings in the first game. That’s not how we want to represent Post 218 at the state tournament. We played like the way we’re capable of playing against Joplin.”
Washington (30-3) was scheduled to play defending state champion Fike Post 499 (30-17) Friday in a losers’ bracket game.
Fike went 1-1 on Thursday, defeating Joplin 7-1 and falling to Ste. Genevieve, 5-2.
Kleekamp said Spencer Juergens will be the starting pitcher against Fike.
Ste. Genevieve and Glendale were scheduled to meet Friday in the winners’ bracket final.
“Right now, we’re focusing on getting through (Friday). I can’t imagine anybody has an ace left. Our pitching, one through five, is as good as anybody’s, especially having Evan (Ayers) available,” Kleekamp said, “The boys’ goal still is to win the tournament. Hopefully we have some hits in our bats left.”
Post 218 scored early and often, outhitting the Miners, 18-1.
Joplin’s only hit of the game came on an infield single in the top of the fourth inning.
Washington scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, nine in the second, six in the third and three in the fourth.
Post 218 sent 14 batters to the plate in the second inning and 10 more in the third.
Ayers got the start on the mound for Post 218 and pitched three innings of no-hit baseball for the win. The only Joplin batter to reach base against Ayers came on an error. He allowed no runs, hits or walks and registered three strikeouts in 40 pitches.
“We kept Evan from going the whole game, so he might be able to come back (Friday) or for sure Saturday,” Kleekamp said. “He pitched well, considering we had a couple of long innings at the plate where he was sitting.
Scott Byrne tossed two scoreless innings in relief. He allowed one hit, no walks and struck out four batters.
“Scott Byrne looked great,” Kleekamp said. “I was impressed with our two relievers today, Nick Thiel in the first game and Scott in the second game. They both threw strikes and gave us what we needed.”
Four Joplin pitchers struggled against Washington’s offense.
Matthew Wells got the start and worked 1.1 innings for the loss. He was relieved by Dylan Barnhart, Austin Zengel and Cole Allen.
Seth Bollmann was 4-4 at the plate with three RBIs and three runs for Post 218.
John Himmelberg was 3-4 with a walk, four RBIs and four runs.
Spencer Juergens also was 3-4 with four runs.
Ross Seitter collected two hits, one walk, three RBIs and one run.
Aaron Meyer finished with two hits, three RBIs and two runs.
Ryan Becszlko pitched in with one hit, one walk, two RBIs and one run.
Kyle Summers registered one hit, two RBIs and one run.
Nate Hillermann added one hit, two runs and one RBI.
Max Diener had hit and one RBI.
Justin Baylard, Teddy Harrison and Nicholas Schumaker each walked and scored.
Zengel had Joplin’s lone hit.
“Our guys did what we needed to do. Joplin is a very gracious host. You never want to put that many runs on the board per se, but we needed a jump-start like that,” Kleekamp said. “I’m proud with the way we came back after such a tough loss where we didn’t play our best.”
Post 218 received contributions from many players.
“I’m happy we were able to get some guys on the field, contribute to the game and be a part of the state tournament,” Kleekamp said. “As much as we’re here to win, we want everyone to enjoy the experience. It truly is an honor to be here. Post 218 has been spoiled the last few years This doesn’t happen all the time. We want to make sure everyone can experience it.”