Post 5 Seniors get past Fulton in district tournament opener

Logan Bax of the Jefferson City American Legion Post 5 Seniors dives back to first on a pickoff attempt during Wednesday night’s district tournament game with Fulton at the American Legion Sports Complex.

Logan Bax of the Jefferson City American Legion Post 5 Seniors dives back to first on a pickoff attempt during Wednesday night’s district tournament game with Fulton at the American Legion Sports Complex. Photo by Kris Wilson.

This one didn’t exactly follow the script you’d expect.

A big early lead for the Jefferson City American Legion Post 5 Seniors often equals a surefire win. Not this time.

Uncharacteristically sloppy play from Post 5 — errors, baserunning mistakes, leadoff walks — saw a six-run advantage turn into an 8-all tie late in the ball game.

Fulton returned the favor in the bottom of the eighth, however, as Post 5 used a bases-loaded walk to escape with a 9-8 victory during Wednesday night’s district tournament opener at the American Legion Sports Complex.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is at 7 p.m. today at the Legion Complex.

“A win is definitely better than the alternative,” Post 5 head coach Dane Hughes said. “When you get to this point in the year, I’m never going to complain about a win.”

Post 5 looked poised to run away with the game early on, sending 11 batters to the plate in a six-run second inning. It’s not like the Seniors tore the cover off the ball in the inning, though, registering just three hits in the frame. Three walks and a hit-batter aided Post 5’s cause.

Logan Bax opened the scoring with an RBI single, a second scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch, a third scored on a dribbler down the first-base line off the bat of Dylan Brauner, the fourth scored when Cole Distler was hit by a pitch with the bases full and Patrick Schnieders capped the scoring in the frame with a two-run single grounded sharply off the shortstop’s extended glove.

Instead of caving, Fulton responded immediately with four runs in the top of the third inning. Two Post 5 errors led to three of those runs being unearned.

“They have a scrappy group of kids,” Hughes said of Fulton. “They know that you have to play all nine. They were able to get a couple runs after we scored our big inning. They kept them in the game and kept it close.”

Garrett Haslag gave Post 5 a temporary insurance run with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to make it 7-4.

Fulton didn’t waste any time chipping away, plating two runs in the top of the sixth. Both were unearned.

“When you’re moving guys around, when different guys are pitching or playing positions they don’t always play, it’s tough on them,” Hughes said. “It’s just the little things — throwing to the wrong bases, giving up a base — and it snowballs from there. That was uncharacteristic of us, to give up so many extra bases.”

Post 5 squandered multiple chances to pad its lead, stranding two runners in both the sixth and seventh frames.

“(Fulton starter Burk Echelmeier) was getting us to swing at a lot of pitcher’s pitches in hitter’s counts,” Hughes said. “We weren’t sitting on pitches that we wanted to hit, wanted to drive. He was mixing his speeds up well, keeping us off balance. Our approach has to be a lot better at the plate.”

The Seniors did score a run in the seventh on a two-out RBI single from Brauner to make it 8-6. It could have been a three-run advantage when Connor Hager singled up the middle, but Brauner was tagged out after rounding second before Kyler Maxey could cross the plate for the ninth run.

The missed opportunity came back to bite Post 5, if only briefly. Fulton knotted the game at 8 with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. A leadoff walk followed by Riley Brant’s double off the outstretched glove of the Post 5 first baseman made it 8-7 and put Brant at third after advancing on the throw. A RBI bloop single from Smith Kemper squared things up.

Staying with the game’s theme, Post 5 scored the go-ahead run in odd fashion. Distler got things started with a hit-by-pitch, but saw Patrick Schnieders take his place after a forceout at second base. Daniel Castillo, a catcher who played center field Wednesday, followed with a base hit to left to put runners on first and second. Logan Bax loaded the bases by reaching when the catcher’s glove interfered with his swing.

Maxey then drew the ever-dramatic bases-loaded walk to force in the game-winning run.

“Basically you’re just trying to do anything you can to get one run,” Hughes said. “They helped, and Daniel got a big hit.”

Collin Brinker picked up the win, tossing the final 21⁄3 innings of relief and giving up two runs on three hits with three strikeouts. Schnieders got the start, going five innings and allowing four runs on six hits with four strikeouts and four walks.

Now Post 5 (34-4) sits one game away from advancing to the zone tournament. If the Seniors can’t pick up the win tonight, the decisive Game 3 would be held Friday night at the Legion Complex.

“We knew coming in that Fulton had a good team,” Hughes said. “That just reassured it. They’ve played us close all three games this year. We definitely have to be ready to play and we have to get a good pitching performance (today).”


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