I don’t know if it could have been planned more timely.
The summer baseball season came to a close last weekend.
The traditional transition period, the Washington Town & Country Fair, takes place this week with fall sports practices following Monday.
The timing of the end of summer baseball probably has some fall sports coaches happy that they won’t be missing athletes when training camps start.
We had a fairly successful summer. Three of our teams advanced to American Legion state tournaments and all three finished third or higher.
• Union Post 297 was third in the Freshman State Tournament in Jackson. Host Post 158 won the title over Jefferson City Post 5.
• Washington Post 218 was the host team for the Junior State Tournament and finished second to Scott County Post 389, which went 4-2 at the Mid-States Regional in Birmingham, Ala.
• Sedalia Post 642 captured the Senior Legion state title last Saturday with a 3-0 win in 10 innings over Festus Post 253. Both Sedalia and Festus will advance to the Mid-South Regional being played this week in Hastings, Neb. Good luck to both as they head to the home of Kool-Aid. With some luck, maybe one of them can advance to Shelby, N.C., and the American Legion World Series.
Two of the three state titles were won by home teams. The other one, the Post 218 Juniors, came back through the losers’ bracket to finish second.
Sedalia Post 642 technically was not the host team for the Senior Legion State Tournament. As it was bid out, there is no host team. Sedalia had to win its way through the Zone 2 Tournament to be able to play at home.
Sedalia also was the only post to advance to the state tournament at all three levels.
As Missouri Baseball Commissioner Gary Stone said, Sedalia got hot at the right time. And that team had to do that to get through the tournament. This probably was the most competitive state tournament I’ve seen from top to bottom. Any two of the four teams could have advanced.
Ste. Genevieve Post 150 finished fourth and they were able to slug it out with Sedalia in the tournament’s first game Thursday, a 5-4 Sedalia win.
Believe it or not, only 17 runs were scored in the other five games of the tournament. Three of them were shutouts and the losing teams didn’t score more than one run in the other two.
Pitching was good throughout the tournament. All four teams showed depth in their pitching staffs.
That meant any little wrinkle made a difference. Errors and misplays easily could be amplified. And those little miscues made a difference.
Normally, you expect offense to be on display. For small times, it was. One home run was hit in the tournament and it came from Post 218’s Brandon Stahlman, a shot down the right field line against Ste. Genevieve.
But that was one of only a few highlights for the Post 218 offense, which struggled against good pitching.
There were a lot of good teams around this year. Washington had the best of the Ninth District, going undefeated in both the regular season and postseason tournament.
The big challenge was getting past Jefferson City Post 5, and Washington managed that in the Zone 1 Tournament twice on the final day. The teams went 3-3 against each other this year.
Going 35-7, three of the team’s losses came to Jefferson City. Two others came to Festus. The other two losses were to the Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary Outlaws and Columbia Post 202.
At the Junior Legion level, the Ninth District champion was Rhineland Post 147 and that program had a very solid team. They beat Washington for the Ninth District title. Post 218 was able to come through in the Zone 1 Tournament to knock out Rhineland.
With Post 218 hosting the state event, it came down to Rhineland and a then undefeated Jefferson City Post 5 squad for one spot in the state tournament and Rhineland missed out. Hopefully Rhineland comes back intact next season for a run in at the Senior level. It was a good team this summer.
The Freshman district was pretty wide open. We didn’t have as many teams and St. Charles County was without a team for the first time since the level was added.
Union Post 297 was the regular season champion and won the district tournament. Union was two games better than Hannibal Post 55, Pacific Post 320 and Washington Post 218 in the regular season and Ryan Bailey’s team was able to carry that momentum to the district tournament title.
Union put in a good account at the state tournament. Union was competitive with everyone but Jackson and that squad was miles in front of everyone else.
I can recall that when Jefferson City beat Union in the losers’ bracket final, the fans were happy to just reach the title game.
So, what does this year’s results hold for the future?
It’s always hard to say. If everyone who is eligible comes back, it could be a fun 2020 season. But, we know that’s not the case. There always is turnover. Some might go to play travel ball with the clubs. Some of the club kids could come back. Others might decide to concentrate on other sports.
The big thing is to enjoy the current season while it’s still fresh. Next year will be another adventure, but we’ve got three high school seasons to watch first.