Advantage Union.

The Post 297 Freshmen won a Ninth District first-place showdown with Washington Post 218 Thursday afternoon at Wildcat Ballpark, 8-2.

Union improved to 9-2 overall, 5-0 in the Ninth District. Post 297 is the last undefeated team in district games.

“That’s a big win,” Post 297 Manager Ryan Bailey said. “We were both undefeated in the district and at the top of the standings. Even past that, they’re the program everyone compares themselves to. They’ve had a lot of success, they play really good baseball and they’ve done it for years. To come out and win that game from the opening pitch to the end, it makes you feel good as a coach, it makes the boys feel good and it’s just a real nice win for our program.”

Union also pulled off a sweep of Washington teams in Ninth District games so far and has won at all three levels over Post 218.

Washington dropped to 6-1 overall, 4-1 in district games. Manager Joe Kopmann feels the loss could strengthen his team for the long run.

“It was a tough one,” Kopmann said. “They had a pretty good pitcher, but our hitting has gone into a slump. We didn’t have many hits. If we don’t start hitting, it’s going to be a long season for us. When we did hit it, we hit it right after them. I’ve got to give credit to Union. They really came out and outplayed us today. The boys had a little taste of failure. Hopefully they can come back out a little more hungry.”

Union opened scoring with two runs in the bottom of the first. Washington rallied to tie it in the second, but when Union came to bat, Bailey said it was the turning point of the game as his team added three more runs and never looked back.

“We played a much smarter game than we did two nights ago in Rhineland,” Bailey said. “We played a much more emotionally neutral game. We had some things go wrong and we let them tie it up. We came back and we just kept building from there. We never let ourselves get into any type of trouble after that.”

Kopmann agreed.

“They had bases loaded with nobody out,” Kopmann said. “We got two outs, but we just couldn’t finish them off. I think that really was the biggest play of the game when they got the two-out hit to drive in two and they got more after that. If we could have gotten out of that inning, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Keeping up the pressure, Post 297 added two runs in the third and another in the fifth to go onto the 8-2 victory.

Evan Hall pitched nearly the entire game for Post 297, leaving after hitting the pitch count limit with one out in the seventh. He allowed two unearned runs on six hits, two walks and two hit batters while striking out three. He was the winner.

“Evan pitched really well,” Bailey said. “He has struggled a little bit with getting high in pitch counts, but after the first two innings today, he settled down and threw a whale of a game.”

Jude Tenny got the final two outs, including a strikeout. He needed nine pitches to finish the innings.

“Jude came in and he did a great job,” Bailey said.

Washington also used two pitchers. Louis Paule was the losing pitcher, going 2.1 innings while allowing seven runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks. He struck out one.

Landen Byrne pitched 3.2 innings, allowing an unearned run on five hits. He struck out a pair.

“We did get to see some new pitchers tonight. Landen Byrne threw pretty decent for not seeing the mound for a while,” Kopmann said. “Louis Paule threw, but they centered him up pretty good on occasions. We had some defensive miscues where we weren’t really thinking quite right and Union took advantage of that. They’re a good team and a force to be reckoned with.”

Offensively, Union rapped out eight hits with three walks and was aggressive on the basepaths with four stolen bases and several other extra bases taken on throws.

“In the first inning, it actually helped that we missed a sign and Jude stole third without the steal sign,” said Bailey. “It let us move guys up. We had two groundouts which let us get ahead. If you mess up and you’re hesitant, bad things happen. If you mess up and you’re aggressive, you can’t get too mad about it. You try to get jumps and extra bases. That’s baseball and you like to see that.”

Mason Bailey had three hits in the game, including a double.

Canyon Terrill had two hits.

Batters with one hit each were Tenny, Evan Hall, Dylan McLone, Colten Anderson, Tanner Hall and Dallas Owens.

Owens should have had a second hit. He pounded a pitch deep to the outfield and made it to third, but was called out on appeal that he had missed a base.

McLone, Anderson and Tanner Hall walked.

Bailey stole three bases and Tenny had one steal.

Bailey and Tanner Hall each scored twice. Tenny, McLone, Terrill and Bagley each scored once.

Bailey and Evan Hall each drove in two runs. Hayden Schiller, Anderson, Terrill and Owens had one RBI apiece.

“It’s nice in a big game to see our kids play hard and play smart for things to go our way,” Bailey said.

For Washington, there were five hits. Sam Glosemeyer doubled. Caleb Kleekamp, Sam Heggemann, Brayden Mayer and Paule singled.

Owen Struckhoff and Ethan Mort walked. Jacob Bauche and Mayer were hit by pitches.

Bauche and Glosemeyer stole bases.

Glosemeyer and Mayer scored the runs while Kleekamp recorded an RBI.