After patiently waiting for their chance, the Washington Post 218 Juniors pounced.
Washington (25-3) ripped Sullivan Post 18 Thursday night at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field, 11-1 in six innings, to claim the Ninth District Tournament championship.
“We set some lofty goals and the guys responded from the get-go,” Post 218 Manager Kent Getsee said. “We’re a much better team than we were on Day 1 and it really showed throughout the course of this tournament. Playing a lot of good teams on consecutive days, we just got better throughout and we did all of the little things. That’s what puts the pressure on other teams.”
As Washington also won the Ninth District regular season championship, Sullivan (17-5) also advanced to the Zone 1 Tournament next week by finishing second in the regular season.
Post 218 will host the four-team Zone 1 Tournament at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School as the Missouri Freshman Legion State Tournament is being held at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.
And Washington seemed to be more concentrated on the next goal than celebrating after the win.
“It’s nice to win the district,” Getsee said. “The guys probably get that from me. I’m just in that mode where this was just another step into the big picture of what we want in terms of a state title. First, we’re going to have to get a zone title and that’s the next step.”
Sullivan, a 4-3 winner over Rhineland Post 147 in eight innings during the night’s first game, hit first but was set down in order by Brandon Stahlman.
Washington then scored twice in the bottom of the first and added two runs in the bottom of the second.
“We felt it was really important to jump on them early,” Getsee said. “We knew if we plated a couple of runs before they really got anybody on base or had quality at-bats, we would have them up against the ropes and that’s what happened.”
The fourth Washington run scored on fielder’s interference with Sullivan losing one of its top players to ejection after arguing the call.
In the third, both teams scored once.
“When you look at what we do, when we hit a ground ball, guys run,” Getsee said. “There’s no feeling sorry for ourselves because it’s a likely out. We’re going to make that team make a play. That’s our mentality. Everything we do, we’re going to grind it out. We try to do that with every at-bat and the totality of that is what I think wears on teams.”
Washington broke the game open in the fifth with four runs and added the final two to end it early in the bottom of the sixth.
Post 18 outhit Washington, 6-5, but hurt itself defensively with six errors to Washington’s one. Washington batters also drew eight walks to Sullivan’s two and had four hit by pitches.
Stahlman went the distance for the win. He allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out eight.
“They stranded eight runners,” Getsee said. “That’s a guy who was grinding and using his defense. He definitely did that tonight.”
Andrew Branson took the loss. He went four innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits, four walks and a hit batter. He struck out five.
Cooper Beckett pitched one inning, allowing four runs (two earned) on one hit, three walks and a hit batter.
Ethan Kackley closed the game, allowing two unearned runs on a walk and two hit batters.
Offensively, Hunter Coulter singled twice for Post 218. Bryce Mayer, Stahlman and Luke Hendrickson each had one hit.
Levi Weber and Hendrickson each walked twice. Mayer, Jack Czeschin, Stahlman and Josh Garbs walked once.
Czeschin was hit twice by pitches and had to leave the game after the second one caught him on the elbow. Nick Hellmann and Hendrickson each were hit by one pitch.
Hellmann sacrificed. Hendrickson stole two bases. Coulter and Kaden Straatmann each had one steal.
Hendrickson crossed the plate four times. Mayer scored twice. Weber, Czeschin, Garbs, Coulter and Blake Theis scored once.
Coulter drove in two runs. Mayer and Stahlman each had one RBI.
For Sullivan, Collin Immekus recorded two hits. Josh Earney, Branson, Blayten Nolie and Andrew Bell had one hit apiece.
Beckett drew both of the Sullivan walks.
Earney scored the run while Immekus drove him in.
The schedule for the Zone 1 Tournament hasn’t been released yet. Three of the teams are known. Washington, Sullivan and Jefferson City Post 5 will be there along with a District 2 representative.
There will be one big difference from the Ninth District Tournament as metal bats will be allowed. The Ninth District regular season and postseason tournament were played under a wood bat rule.
The Zone 1 winner will advance to the Missouri State Tournament in Warrensburg July 19-21.