The Union Post 297 Freshmen did one better than their last trip to the American Legion Freshman State Tournament.

Union (24-6) wrapped up the season Saturday at Lathrop High School with a 7-5 loss to Ste. Genevieve Post 150 (20-5-1) in the first game of the tournament’s championship series.

Post 150 thus claimed the state championship while Union finished as the runner-up. In its last state trip in 2019, Post 297 finished third at the freshman state tournament in Jackson.

As the winners’ bracket survivor, Post 150 needed to win only one game in the championship series Saturday to claim the title. A Union win would have set up a winner-take-all title game Sunday.

For the second tournament in a row, Post 297 gutted its way through the losers’ bracket after a second-round loss and won more elimination games than any other team in the tournament. Post 297 was responsible for eliminating Festus Post 253 and Jefferson City Post 5 Friday, as well as Kirkwood Post 156 Saturday.

Post 297 had a similar performance at the Ninth District Tournament the previous week, knocking out four teams in elimination games to claim first place in the district.

“It’s been a great weekend of baseball,” Post 297 Coach Drew Reed said. “I think the kids grew more from Wednesday to now than they have the whole rest of the season. We battled through a lot of adversity, had a lot of smiles and laughs along the way (and) a few angry moments. Those type of games are what you live for in baseball. It gets the heart going and shows you the love of the game.”

In Union’s sixth game of the tournament, and second of the day, Post 297 punched in two runs in the top of the first inning.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Ste. Genevieve rallied for three runs in the home half and never relinquished control after that.

Post 150 scored two more runs in the third and two in the fourth.

Union did not send a runner across the plate again until the sixth inning, scoring once to make it 7-3.

Post 297 got runners onto second and third with nobody out in the final frame and pushed both runners in with productive outs, but it was not enough to prolong the game or extend the tournament another day.

“We hit him hard all day,” Reed said of Ste. Genevieve starter Tyler Gegg. “He’s a great pitcher. He shows decent speed and good off-speed, but we hit him hard all day. We’ve just got to string some things together a little sooner than (the seventh) inning.”

Union relied on the pitching combination of Alec Coombs and Logan Hansel in the contest.

Coombs started and pitched three innings, allowing five runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk, striking out one.

Hansel pitched three innings out of the bullpen and allowed two unearned runs on three hits and one walk with three strikeouts.

“I thought Logan Hansel did a great job coming in after Al Coombs,” Reed said. “We had a couple of errors that caused (Coombs) to have a short leash and then Hansel’s been a nice little weapon for us, a young lefty. He’s a 13-year-old, as well, that just comes in and does his job for us, says ‘yes, sir,’ and tries to be a workhorse.”

Union posted seven hits — a Peyton Hall double and six singles.

Hall also had one of the singles and scored once.

Sam Calkins had two knocks and scored once.

Kasey Griffin and Ethan Curnutte both singled and drove in a run.

Zach Voss singled and scored.

Klay Muser walked, was hit by a pitch, scored and drove in a run.

Jake Browne drew a walk.

Curnutte hit a sacrifice fly.

Ste. Genevieve got a complete-game effort from Gegg, who allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Carter Viox paced the Post 150 offense with three hits — two doubles and a single. Viox scored twice and drove in four runs.

Colin Henderson doubled, singled, stole a base and scored three times.

Waylon Samples singled twice and drove in a run.

Carter Grass tripled, walked and drove in a run.

Wyatt Fallert and Gegg both singled. Gegg scored twice.

Kellen Tucker walked and Patrick Schilly was hit by a pitch.