LOOSE CREEK, Mo. — Two games Saturday weren’t enough to decide the Zone 1 Tournament championship.
Washington Post 218 held on for a 2-1 win in Game 1, while the Jefferson City Post 5 Juniors answered with a 6-3 victory in Game 2 at the Loose Creek Community Club.
Game 3, the “if necessary” game of the two-team tournament, will start at 10 a.m. today.
“Every time we run into Washington, it’s always games like this,” Post 5 Juniors coach Dakota Kemna said. “These are the kind of games that make us better.”
It took just around 70 minutes to play seven innings in Game 1, with both pitchers tossing complete games. Jefferson City’s Lane Wilson threw 72 pitches in six innings, but Washington’s Morgan Copeland had 74 pitches in seven innings, including three innings with fewer than 10 pitches thrown.
“The hitters were being aggressive,” Kemna said. “They did a great job of throwing strikes, and that’s what it comes down to in the end.”
Ryan Weidle drove in both runs for Washington, hitting an RBI single to center field in the fourth inning and then lining a two-out single to left field in the sixth to make the score 2-0.
Jefferson City avoided the shutout in the top of the seventh, as Luke Cavender’s sacrifice fly to center field scored courtesy runner Aiden Boeckmann to make it a one-run deficit. Wilson, who represented the tying run, advanced to third base on the flyout, but Copeland got the next Post 5 batter to fly out again to center field to end the game.
Jefferson City put the ball in play often in the loss but couldn’t string together enough hits before the seventh inning.
“That’s baseball, there’s not much you can do about that,” Kemna said.
Each pitcher allowed seven hits, all singles. Copeland struck out five and Wilson fanned six.
“He’s been one of our most efficient pitchers all season,” Kemna said of Wilson.
In addition to Weidle, Tanner McPherson had a pair of hits for Washington. Nate Roark had two hits for Jefferson City.
Each team scored in the first inning of Game 2, as Kabren Koelling hit a two-out RBI single for Post 218 and Hunter Berendzen had a two-out RBI single to left field for Post 5. Holden Brand also tried to score on Berendzen’s single, but he was thrown out at the plate, leaving the score tied at 1.
Brand went 0-for-4 in Game 1, but he came through with the big hit for Jefferson City in Game 2. In the bottom of the third, Brand belted a 3-2 pitch into the right-center field gap, scoring Cavender to give Post 5 its first lead of the day at 2-1.
“Holden is one of our go-to guys at the plate,” Kemna said. “That’s why he bats in the three-hole, and sometimes cleanup, for us. He’s really great at putting the bat on the ball.”
Two batters later, Max Buscher hit an RBI single to left field, then Jude Rader drew a bases-loaded walk to extend Jefferson City’s lead to 4-1.
Washington had its first five batters reach base in the top of the fourth, leading to two runs, but Roark settled down on the mound after that and retired the final eight batters he faced for Jefferson City.
“You could tell the determination in his eyes,” Kemna said of Roark, who pitched six innings and allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts for the win. “After he gave up those two runs, he came up to me and said, ‘That was on me, coach. I gave it to them.’
“He shut them down after that.”
Post 5 tacked on two insurance runs in the fifth, with some help from the bottom of the order. Jack Robertson hit a ground-rule double to left field, scoring Berendzen, then Patrick Baker reached on an infield single to score Buscher to make it 6-3.
“Our 1-9 (hitters), there’s not a short leash on any of them,” Kemna said. “Any one of these kids could be our three-hole hitter. It just comes down to who came to play that day and who comes to hit. We pull from the best high schools around.”
Berendzen relieved Roark on the mound in the seventh. Washington loaded the bases with a walk and two hit-batters, but Berendzen ended the game with his third strikeout of the inning to force a Game 3.
“Hunter doesn’t get a lot of innings (on the mound), but we wanted to put him in a situation like this and see what he’s made of,” Kemna said. “He did absolutely great.”
Buscher had a pair of singles for Post 5, while Koelling had a pair of singles for Post 218.
Because Chillicothe dropped out of the Zone 1 Tournament on Friday, Jefferson City (12-5-1) and Washington (18-3) have both already qualified to play later this week in the Missouri American Legion AA State Tournament in Washington. However, Kemna said the Zone champion will get the better seed in the state bracket.