For those keeping track at home, the 2021 summer scorecard for Washington Post 218 baseball is two state runners-up and one still to be determined.
The Post 218 Juniors wrapped a 20-6 season Saturday in which only three separate teams were able to defeat Washington all season, one of which was from outside the state of Missouri.
The juniors came within one final strike of forcing a winner-take-all rematch with Eureka Post 177 to end the state tournament at Rotary Recreational Complex – Ronsick Field before a bases-clearing triple made the difference and gave Post 177 the title.
A week before that, the Post 218 Freshmen advanced all the way to the championship round of the state tournament in Ballwin before falling to Jackson Post 158 and ending in second, concluding with a 27-8 record on the summer.
This coming week, the Post 218 Seniors get their opportunity after qualifying for the state tournament in Sedalia.
One could call the Post 218 Seniors’ run to the state tournament improbable, and fairly so, after the team (19-12) finished third in the Ninth District Tournament. However, hosting the Zone 1 Tournament this past weekend gave Washington an automatic spot in the zone event and kept the team in the state hunt.
Post 218 did everything it needed to in order to advance, both knocking out the Ninth District Champions, Hannibal Post 55 (Culp), and avenging a first-round loss to the NEMO Sixers of Moberly.
The team also got some help from outside circumstances. Thursday’s tournament-opening contest between Hannibal and Jefferson City proved more costly for those two teams than originally thought.
A brawl in the bottom of the fifth inning resulted in a player being ejected from both teams. Hannibal, which held a 10-3 lead at the time, was out of eligible players and had to forfeit the game to Post 5.
Falling to Post 218 Saturday afternoon took Post 55 from what was at one point a 10-0 lead in the opening round to suddenly being eliminated in fourth place of the zone.
Little did we know at the time that during the first-round game Jefferson City had used an ineligible player, a fact that was brought to light after Friday’s games were played.
The discovery resulted in Post 5, the winners’ bracket survivor, being disqualified from the remainder of the tournament, turning the scheduled losers’ bracket final between Post 218 and the Sixers into the championship game.
You never know what could happen, which is why these tournaments are decided on the field rather than on paper. Any one of the four teams at the zone tournament looked like a worthy contender to advance to Sedalia this week, but Post 218 did everything it needed to in order to ensure it was the one to get through.
State tournaments and Post 218 are certainly no strangers. Since I’ve been here, the program has been to eight of them across the three levels in just three seasons.
That includes this year, 2019 and 2018. There were no legion baseball postseason tournaments in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The program’s last state championship came just before I arrived in Washington in the summer of 2017, when the Post 218 Freshmen won it all.
The Post 218 Seniors this year share a common link to that 2017 freshman team in Louis Paule, the team’s regular first baseman and occasional pitcher.
The team as a whole has no shortage of state experience, including players from the 2018 freshmen and 2019 juniors, both state runner-up teams.
At the senior level, Washington has not fared better than third since taking second at state in 2016. In order to change that, the 2021 seniors will have to go through Gladstone Post 626, Cape Girardeau Post 63 and Oak Grove Post 379 this week in Sedalia.
Post 218 and Gladstone play in the first game Thursday at 5 p.m.
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