It was the type of ending worthy of Hollywood.
Two fierce rivals playing one game for the right to advance. Two teams enter, one team leaves.
And this time, taking home the hardware, was Washington Post 218 with a 12-6 win over two-time defending state champion Jefferson City Post 5.
“We did it the hard way,” Washington Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner said. “Our kids were resilient. It was a long day. A lot of different things happened and we fought through it. Our kids swung the bats really well today and I think that was the difference.”
First baseman-pitcher Joe Hackmann said it was the perfect way to end the tournament.
“It feels amazing to beat those guys, a team like that, while coming back from the brink,” Hackmann said. “That’s the stuff you write movies about.”
The Washington Seniors (34-5) repeated as the Zone 1 champion with the win over Jefferson City (26-7). With only one team qualifying from the zone this season, that meant the end of the season for the defending state champion.
“They’re a very good team,” Gardner said. “They’re probably the deepest team pitching-wise that I’ve seen in a long time. You look at their stats and what they did in Blue Springs and nobody’s scoring runs off of them. For us to put up six and then 12 was huge.”
Adam Molitor, who had a home run and a double, said it was a great feeling to win the title.
“It feels awesome,” Molitor said. “We battled hard every single game. We lost yesterday and got the short end of the stick. But today, we fought hard both games all the way through.”
Jack Czeschin also homered in the game.
“It’s special,” he said. “To beat that good of a team not once, but twice, back-to-back, is incredible. We were up against some tough odds, but the boys came together well and we beat them twice.”
It was the third meeting of the tournament between the two teams. Jefferson City won Friday in eight innings on a Josef Keilholz home run in the bottom of the eighth, 7-6. Washington won earlier in the game, 5-4.
This one wasn’t as close, but that didn’t mean it was easy.
“It’s the thing that you have to play seven innings all of the time,” Molitor said. “You can’t play five and coast through the last two. You’ve got to play a full seven every time. They’re a great ballclub and they’ve given us everything. I think lifetime over the four years I’ve played them, we probably have a split record. They’ve always had a good club and we battle hard every time we play them.”
Post 5, which had won three of the five previous games against Washington, opened scoring with a run in the top of the first.
Washington came back to tie it in the bottom of the second on a Molitor home run.
Czeschin led off the bottom of the third with a home run to give Post 218 the lead.
“I’ve been seeing the ball great this tournament,” said Czeschin. “The first game was quite the battle. The second game was a battle until we started hitting. Our confidence was through the roof. We got some good swings on the ball. Adam came through and hit the ball hard. All around, we hit the ball well. It was a good tournament for all of us.”
By the time the third inning ended, Washington had a 5-1 advantage. Jefferson City bounced back to tie it in the top of the fourth.
Post 218 responded again. Hunter drove in Czeschin in the bottom of the fourth to put Washington back on top, 6-5.
Washington struck next to add to the lead. Post 218 scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
In the sixth, Jefferson City cut it to 9-6, but Washington scored three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
In the seventh, Washington was able to keep Post 5 off the board to secure the 12-6 win and advance to the state tournament.
Washington outhit Jefferson City in the game, 13-10. Post 218 also made three of the game’s four errors.
Nick Helfrich got the start and went six innings before reaching the pitch limit.
“It feels pretty good. It was a rough go there, but we got a lot of offense and that helped us out,” Helfrich said. “We had a tough extra-inning game with Jefferson City Friday and that set us back a little bit with the pitching, but we were able to have enough pitching to get through.”
It was his second win in the tournament as he also was the pitcher of record Thursday in the victory over the Kirksville Redbirds.
“It feels good,” said Helfrich. “I don’t know what the record is, but it would be a fun one to have.
Helfrich allowed six runs (four earned) on 10 hits, three walks and a hit batter. He struck out two.”
Andrew Bruner got all three outs in the seventh, allowing one walk.
“We had a lot of good pitching,” Helfrich said. “Bruner was a starter for us most of the year and he came in relief when we needed him and finished it off. It was the last game, so anything goes.”
For Post 5, Justin Wood started and lasted three innings, allowing six runs on seven hits, two walks and a hit batter. He struck out two.
Dawson Koch pitched the final three innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits, four walks and one hit batter. He took the loss.
Czeschin and Molitor led Washington offensively with three hits apiece. Both homered. Molitor added a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth.
Spencer Hunter and Joe Hackmann each had two hits. Bryce Mayer, Quinton Poepsel and Levi Weber all singled once.
Louie Eckelkamp drew two walks and was hit by a pitch. Czeschin, Mayer, Maguire Landwehr and Weber walked once. Hackmann was hit by a pitch.
Mayer added a sacrifice bunt.
Czeschin, Eckelkamp and Molitor scored twice. Mayer, Hunter, Poepsel, Hackmann, Tyler Glosemeyer and Landwehr scored once.
Molitor posted four RBIs. Czeschin, Hackmann and Weber drove in two runs apiece. Hunter added one RBI.
For Post 5, Wood and Parker Schnieders had three hits apiece.
Josef Keilholz had two hits, including a double.
Zach Woehr and Jack Shinkle singled.
Keiholz, Koch, Dawson Schulte and Jaden Hoskins dew walks. Wood was hit by a pitch.
Keilholz scored three of the runs. Woehr, Hoskins and Jackson Voss each scored once.
Schnieders drove in three runs. Wood added two RBIs.
Defensively, each team turned two double plays.