It was the number of victories the Washington Post 218 Senior Legion team needed to continue playing baseball.
Unfortunately, it also was the number of runs it scored in a rematch with Festus Post 253 in the Missouri Senior Legion State Tournament losers’ bracket final Friday night at Liberty Park in Sedalia.
Festus (32-10) ended the season for Washington (35-7), 5-1.
“It was an awesome season,” said Washington Manager Mike Gardner. “We had a heck of a year. We fell a little bit short. We didn’t swing the bats very well this weekend. Give the other teams credit. The pitching was pretty dominant. I was surprised that we only scored four runs in three games and only had 10 hits as well. That was really the difference. We pitched well enough to win ballgames. We just didn’t hit the ball.”
By virtue of the win, Festus not only reached the championship series against Sedalia Post 642, but also secured a spot in the Mid-South Regional in Hastings, Neb. That tournament starts Wednesday.
The story of the game was the pitching performance by Festus hurler Jordan Duncan. He was the same pitcher who secured a save the night before in a 2-1 win for Post 253 in the opening round.
Duncan needed 99 pitches to mow through the Post 218 order. He allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out five.
“We didn’t get anything going against him,” Gardner said. “You’ve got to give him credit. We tried and took different approaches. We took some great at-bats late in the game, we just couldn’t get a rally.”
It was one of the few times this season Washington had been held down. Besides the two hits, Washington also got two walks and had one runner reach on an error.
Washington got a big pitching effort from Nick Helfrich, who went four innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits. He struck out five batters.
“Nick’s been great for us all year,” Gardner said. “He’s been a member of the Post 218 baseball family his whole career. He actually can come back next year and hopefully we’ll see him again next year.”
Helfrich ran into problems in the bottom of the fourth. With the game tied 1-1, Levi Ebersoldt and Jake Leitner led off with singles.
Helfrich came back to strike out the next two before Jeremy Isenman reached on an infield single to load the bases.
Isack Hamilton broke it open with a line drive single to left, scoring Ebersoldt and Leitner.
Christian Hancock came through with a single to right and Isenman scored.
An error on a ground ball by Jacob Bridges plated Hamilton to make it 5-1. Washington finally got the last out, but the damage had been done.
“It seemed like we had two strikes several times to get that third out,” Gardner said. “We just didn’t make a pitch. Give them credit. They swung the bats well that inning.”
Brandon Stahlman pitched the final two innings for Post 218, striking out a pair.
The game’s other scoring came in the third inning. Washington struck first. With two outs, Tyler Glosemeyer drew a walk. Jack Czeschin followed with a double to left and Glosemeyer sprinted all the way around.
Festus scored its run on a two-out rally. Post 218 appeared to have the final out on a fly ball by Hancock to left center, but Washington’s left fielder and center fielder collided and the ball popped free for a multi-base error.
Bridges followed with a single to center and Hancock ran home with the tying run.
Besides the double by Czeschin, Glosemeyer singled. Spencer Hunter and Glosemeyer drew walks.
Glosemeyer scored the run and Czeschin drove him home.
For Festus, Bridges, Ebersoldt, Leitner, Isenman, Hamilton and Hancock each had one single.
Ebersoldt, Leitner, Isenman, Hamilton and Hancock scored runs.
Hamilton had two RBIs. Bridges and Hancock drove in one run apiece.