If the Washington Post 218 Senior Legion team is going to continue its season beyond this weekend, it’s going to be by the scenic route.
Festus Post 253 (31-9) scored an unearned run Thursday night in the bottom of the fifth to edge Post 218 (34-6) in the first round of the Missouri State Tournament in Sedalia, 2-1.
"Probably the toughest loss of the year," Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner said. "Bryce (Mayer) was great on the mound and really deserved a better outcome. Need to give their pitchers some credit as they made some good pitches at the right time."
Washington still can come back in the four-team tournament, but has to win twice Friday to make the championship series.
"Fortunately we still have a chance to battle back and get to the championship game," Gardner said. "With the top two teams moving on it makes it a little easier on our pitching staff to get there."
That quest starts at 4 p.m. with a game against Ste. Genevieve Post 150 (24-10). It will be the second game of the day, following the Festus contest against Sedalia Post 642 (25-9) at 1 p.m. The Travelers topped Ste. Genevieve in Thursday’s first game, 5-4.
A final game will be played at 7 p.m. between the loser from the 1 p.m. game and the winner from the 4 p.m. game. After Friday’s play, only two teams will remain.
The championship series starts at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"We will have to be better at the plate and in the field if we are to win two on Friday," Gardner said. "We certainly have the talent to do it and am confident we will give it our all."
Both of Thursday’s winners have been state champions in recent years. Sedalia won the 2016 title while Festus last won in 2011. Oddly, both beat Washington Post 218 to achieve those titles.
The two teams still alive Saturday will move on to the Mid-South Regional in Hastings, Neb. That eight-team event starts next Wednesday.
In Thursday’s first-round game, Festus scored in the bottom of the first on back-to-back singles by Jacob Bridges and Jordan Duncan. From there, Festus only got one hit for the rest of the game.
Washington came back to tie it in the top of the second on a balk. Brandon Stahlman crossed the plate.
The game stayed tied until the bottom of the fifth, when Festus got the winning run from Bridges on an error.
That was Washington’s lone error in the game. Each side made one fielding miscue.
The game was dominated by starting pitchers Jeremy Isenman of Festus and Bryce Mayer of Washington.
Isenman went six innings, allowing an unearned run on three hits, three walks and three hit batters. He struck out nine.
Mayer went 5.2 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and four walks. He struck out 12. Eight of the nine Festus batters whiffed.
Both starters had to exit early after reaching the American Legion pitch limit. For Festus, Duncan got the save, pitching the final inning. He allowed one hit and one walk and struck out two.
Nick Helfrich got the final out for Washington, a strikeout. He allowed a walk.
Offensively, Stahlman singled twice for half of the Washington hits. Jack Czeschin and Mayer had one hit apiece.
Adam Molitor walked twice. Czeschin and Mayer walked once.
Czeschin, Maguire Landwehr and Levi Weber were hit by pitches.
Mayer added a stolen base.
Stahlman scored the run and there was no RBI.
"We did have plenty of opportunities but just couldn’t come through in the clutch," Gardner said. "We also could have done a much better job of making an adjustment at the plate to put the ball in play."
For Festus, Bridges singled twice.
Duncan had the team’s only other hit.
Isack Hamilton drew two walks. Duncan, Edward Martin and Charles Pratt also walked once.
Bridges stole a base and scored the runs. Duncan had the lone RBI.
The tournament’s first game went to the home team as the Travelers came back from a deficit to win in the top of the seventh.
Ste. Genevieve opened with two runs in the bottom of the first and made it 3-0 in the second.
Sedalia came back to tie it in the top of the third, but Post 150 went back on top with a run in the bottom of the third, 4-3.
That’s how it stood until the sixth. The Travelers tied it in that frame and went ahead for the first time in the top of the seventh.
Kyler Simoncic was the winning pitcher, going six innings while allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits, two walks and a hit batter.
Duffin Makings picked up the save, tossing the final inning. He allowed a walk and struck out one.
Kellen Blum went the distance for Post 150 and took the loss. He allowed five runs (three earned) on 10 hits and one walk. He struck out seven Sedalia batters.
Offensively, Makings had three hits from the leadoff spot for Sedalia.
Braiden McEachern had two hits, including a double.
Adam Webb singled twice.
Brandon Kindle tripled and made a big catch in right field to end the final Ste. Genevieve rally in the bottom of the seventh.
Connor Tichenor delivered the game-winning hit while Levi Betts also singled.
Betts had the lone Sedalia walk. Landon Dull sacrificed. Makings and Webb stole bases.
Makings, Kindle, McEachern, Betts and Webb scored the runs.
Tichenor, McEachern and Webb recorded one RBI apiece.
For Ste. Genevieve, Logan Gegg came through with two doubles.
Derek Morganthaler and Tyler Blum had two singles apiece.
Grant Staffen and Keaton Boyer singled.
Staffen, Chad Donze and Gegg walked. Boyer was hit by a pitch.
Morganthaler sacrificed and Donze stole a base.
Morganthaler, Staffen, Tyler Blum and Donze scored one run apiece.
Gegg posted an RBI.