By Bill Battle
Missourian Sports Editor
Hitting at the beginning and end of the game, the Washington Post 218 Senior Legion team rallied past Elsberry Wednesday in its Ninth District opener, 7-5.
Post 218 (2-0, 1-0) scored three times in the bottom of the first, but went dormant offensively until the bottom of the seventh.
At that time, Washington trailed 4-3 after Elsberry scored its runs in the top of the third. Washington tied the game in the seventh and then added three additional runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take the lead for good.
Elsberry got one run back in the top of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough.
“We showed good character by not panicking and continued to take good at-bats and eventually opened it up in the bottom of the eighth,” said Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner.
Post 218 outhit Elsberry, 10-8, but committed more errors as well, 3-1.
Trent Leimkuehler earned the win, throwing three innings in relief of starter Cody Gardner.
Leimkuehler allowed one run on one walk while striking out three batters.
Offensively, Leimkuehler had three hits while also walking, scoring a run and driving in one. He also had a stolen base.
Also ending with three hits was Mike McGilvray, who added three runs.
“Mike McGilvray and Trent Leimkuehler really shined at the plate and Matt Jones had a great at-bat in the bottom of the eighth driving in two runs,” said Gardner. “With a full count Matt was able to foul off several pitches and then hit a hard line drive to right center.”
Other Washington players with hits were Grant Eckelkamp, Jones, David McNeal and Jack Kopmann.
Eckelkamp scored twice, walked and was hit by two pitches.
Jones walked and drove in four.
Austin Rettke drew a walk, was hit by a pitch and added a sacrifice.
Dilan Bollmann scored a run.
Dustin Howard stole a base.
“I thought we took much better at-bats than in the previous game and it seemed that we had runners on base every inning,” Gardner said. “We jumped on top with three runs in the bottom of the first but Elsberry put up a four-spot to take the lead. The top four batters in their lineup were really tough outs.”
Cody Gardner, who recently finished his freshman year at Truman State University in Kirksville, got the start for Washington. Over six innings, he allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out one. Gardner threw 106 pitches before being relieved.
“Other than the one inning, Cody gave us a quality start on the mound, especially since it was the first time he had thrown that many pitches in a while,” Gardner said. “Fighting back and giving us two more shutout innings really was a good sign.”
For the first two innings, Elsberry did little against him. But a walk started a rally in the third inning and Elsbery strung together hits after that to score four times and take the lead.
The fourth run which crossed the plate put Elsberry on top, giving the visitors the lead until Post 218 tied it in the bottom of the seventh.
Washington returns to league action Friday night, hosting St. Peters in a nine-inning district game.
“We continue with more tough district games this weekend with St. Peters on Friday and West on Sunday,” Gardner said. “We will go with Tony Helfrich on Friday and Brendan Kleekamp on Sunday.”
That will follow the Post 218 Juniors game against Daniel Boone, which starts at 6 p.m.
It will be the third meeting between Post 218 and Daniel Boone Post 262. The teams played twice in the Washington Junior Legion Memorial Weekend Tournament with Daniel Boone taking both games, including the championship contest.
Post 218 returns to action Sunday with a home league game against West at 6 p.m. That will be a rematch of last year’s Zone 1 Tournament championship series.
With only one nonleague game, Post 218 has jumped into Ninth District play quickly this summer.
“We were able to start off district play with a nice win over Elsberry,” Gardner said. “Having to play everyone twice in our district is going to make for a very interesting year. From a scheduling standpoint we are playing more district games at the beginning of the year than what we might normally do. I personally like that we are playing everyone twice. I think it makes for a much more interesting season.”
Notes — Like all Ninth District games, this was a nine-inning contest played with wood bats. Nonleague and tournament games usually go seven innings and Monday’s season opener against House Springs was a nonleague game in which both teams agreed to use wood bats.
In Wednesday’s game, Mike Gardner started Cody Gardner at pitcher, Jones at catcher, Noah Borgerding at first base, Rettke at second base, Kopmann at third base, Eckelkamp at shortstop, Howard in left field, McGilvray in center and McNeal in right field. Leimkuehler was the designated hitter.