Despite trailing 5-0 at one point Friday night, the Washington Post 218 Senior Legion team not only came back to win the game, but also claimed top playoff seed heading into Sunday’s Washington Wood Bat Tournament playoffs.
Post 218 (16-3) rallied to beat Dunklin County Friday in a showdown of pool powers, 12-8.
“Dunklin County came out and really hit the ball well and built a 5-0 lead after three innings,” Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner said. “It took us a while to solve their starting pitcher as he had a pretty nasty slider working.”
Washington then finished the pool sweep by beating Springfield Saturday, 9-1.
Washington earned the right to face wildcard Manchester Sunday in the semifinals by winning the pool.
The Friday night game couldn’t have started in a worse way for Washington. Dunklin County scored four times in the bottom of the second and once in the third.
When Washington countered with a three-run rally in the fourth, Dunklin County parried that with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. However, the inning ended in a play which helped to turn around the game, Gardner said.
“With a runner tagging from third Trent Leimkuehler made a strong throw to the plate and we were able to get a double play to end the inning that gave us some momentum,” Gardner said. “Matt Jones made a nice play diving to tag out the runner at the plate. It was a big play by two of our leaders and it really sparked the team.”
Washington exploded for six runs in the top of the sixth to take a 9-8 lead. Post 218 added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh to seal the victory, 12-8.
Washington recorded 12 hits in the game while adding four walks. Four more batters were hit by pitches.
Dilan Bollmann, Noah Borgerding, Sam Katzung and Luke Hasenjaeger each had two hits.
Bollmann doubled, scored twice, drove in one run and was hit by a pitch.
Borgerding scored three times, drove in three and walked.
Katzung drove in a park of runs.
“We had some big hits up and down the lineup with Noah leading the way with three RBIs,” Gardner said.
Hasenjaeger tripled, scored once, drove in one and walked twice.
Grant Eckelkamp, Trent Leimkuehler, Tony Helfrich and Jack Kopmann each had one hit.
Eckelkamp scored a run, drove in one and was hit by a pitch.
Leimkuehler scored once and was hit by a pitch.
Helfrich scored twice, walked once and was hit by a pitch.
Kopmann scored one run.
Matt Jones and Ben Huffman each drove in one run. Todd Kleekamp scored as a courtesy runner.
Zach Pointer got the start for Post 218 and went two innings. Everything that could have gone wrong did. A grounder which should have gone for an out hit a rock and jumped over Eckelkamp’s head for a hit.
Pointer allowed five runs on nine hits in two innings. He struck out one.
Tyler Murray relieved and went two innings, allowing three runs on three hits and one walk. He struck out two and was credited with the win.
Leimkuehler pitched the final three innings to pick up the save. He allowed two hits and one walk while striking out five.
“Trent was really impressive in only his second outing on the mound going three innings to get the save,” said Gardner. “It was a great comeback and something that will give us a lot of confidence.”
Post 218 solidified its stance as the top seed Saturday with a 9-1 win over Springfield.
Washington broke the game open with eight runs in the bottom of the second inning. Springfield scored its run in the third. Washington added its final run in the fifth.
Justin Schuler went the distance on the hill for Washington, allowing one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out 10 Springfield batters.
“Justin Schuler went out and gave us a complete game striking out 10,” Gardner said. “We really needed that kind of effort going into Sunday with the possibility of playing two games.”
Offensively, Washington did its damage on nine hits.
Hasenjaeger and Leimkuehler each had three hits.
“Luke and Trent remained hot at the plate,” said Gardner.
Hasenjaeger also scored once and drove in a run.
Leimkuehler doubled, tripled, scored once and drove in a pair.
Huffman had two hits, including a triple. He scored, drove in three and walked.
“Ben Huffman is really getting more comfortable at the plate,” Gardner said.
Eckelkamp had Washington’s other hit. He scored twice and walked.
Jones scored a run and drove in one.
Borgerding scored once and walked.
Helfrich scored and stole a base.
Kopmann scored a run and drew a walk.
Katzung drew a walk.
“We again played great defense not making an error,” Gardner added.