Millers win Midsummer Classic title - Republic-Times | News

Millers win Midsummer Classic title

By on July 8, 2015 at 11:37 am
Waterloo third baseman Larry Schimsa makes a play on Friday. (Alan Dooley photo)

Waterloo third baseman Larry Schimsa makes a play on Friday. For more photos from the tournament, click here. (Alan Dooley photo)

When the dust finally settled Sunday at the 44th annual Valmeyer Midsummer Classic, the Waterloo Millers emerged as champions with a thrilling 9-8 victory over Millstadt VFW.

The championship game looked to be a slugfest at the start, with both teams swinging the bats well.

Following a scoreless first inning, Millstadt got on the board in the second by taking advantage of shaky pitching from Millers starter Eric Tiefenthaler.

After walking two batters, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third before Brian Lupa drove in a run with a ground out followed by an RBI double from Ryan Rist, and the Green Machine had an early 2-0 lead.

The Millers answered back in the bottom of the inning, sending 10 hitters to the plate. Jason Harrison, Brad Dillenberger, Jake Friederich and Larry Schimsa had RBI singles and another run scored on a wild pitch by Millstadt starter Alex Kollack, and the Millers had a 5-2 lead after two.

Millstadt bounced back to tie the game in the third on back-to-back home runs from the Matecki brothers. Luke hit a two-run shot and Mitch followed with a solo shot to tie the game and bring Millers manager Vern Moehrs to the mound for a pitching change. John Auble came on in relief.

Millstadt kept the bats hot in the fourth. After a bunt single by Tony Kossina and a double by Luke Matecki, Mitch Matecki launched another bomb for a three-run homer and an 8-5 lead over the Millers.

Valmeyer's Matt Reinholz is greeted after scoring a run Friday against the St. Louis Printers. (Alan Dooley photo)

Valmeyer’s Matt Reinholz is greeted after scoring a run Friday against the St. Louis Printers.
(Alan Dooley photo)

Waterloo took the field in the fifth with their third pitcher of the game, bringing in reliever Austin Nunnery in hopes of slowing down Millstadt. It turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.
Schimsa led off the bottom of the fifth for Waterloo and pulled them within two of Millstadt with a home run to left center.

The Millers followed the homer with a single from Justin Dunning and double from Craig Ohlau to chase Millstadt’s Kollack from the game.

Steve Todoshuk took over in relief and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. After striking out Harrison, a wild pitch scored another to pull the Millers within one run.

Ethan Ruff followed with an infield single and the Millers tied the game 8-8 heading into the sixth.

Mitch Matecki led off the sixth with a single and advanced to third on an error, but Nunnery coaxed a fly out and struck out the next two batters to keep the game tied.

Millstadt threatened again in the top of the eighth when Kossina led off with a double. Luke Matecki lined out deep to right, allowing Kossina to tag up and advance to third.

Mitch Matecki was intentionally walked, putting runners on first and third with one out. He tried to steal second but was gunned down by Millers catcher Justin Dunning for the second out. After a walk to Jarod Mueth, Nunnery struck out Rob Beatty to end the inning and keep the game tied yet again.

With one out in the Millers’ half of the eighth, Friederich ripped a ball to left field for a home run to give the Millers a 9-8 lead.

“That’s one of the few times in my career that I knew it was gone when I hit it,” Friederich said after the game. “Thank God he made a mistake on a fastball.”

Nunnery got two ground outs and a strikeout in the ninth to pick up the win and give the Millers the Midsummer Classic crown.

“A big turning point in this game was when Nunnery came in. We had hit the ball pretty well up to that point. We had chances to score, but could not get the hit when we needed it and the throw from Dunning on the steal was a big play,” Millstadt manager Norm Toenjes said. “Nunnery just came in and really shut the door on us. He did a heck of a job.”
Nunnery went five innings, allowing three hits and striking out six.

“For a sandlot team that doesn’t practice much, I thought we did extremely well today. Nunnery came on and pitched very well for us,” Moehrs said after the game.

Friederich was named tournament MVP. He went 6-for-15 with two home runs during the tournament.

“Millstadt is a good team. It could have gone either way,” Friederich said.

The tourney began Friday morning with Millstadt notching a 9-6 win over the Belleville Rockies followed by a Cape Girardeau win over the St. Louis Spikes.

The Friday afternoon games saw Waterloo defeat the Fairview Heights Redbirds, 13-2, and the Valmeyer Lakers top the St. Louis Printers, 11-10, to set up a Waterloo versus Valmeyer semifinal game on Saturday.

Frierdich, Justin Dunning and Garrett Schlecht homered in the Friday win.

The first semifinal game on Saturday pitted Millstadt against Cape Girardeau, which turned out to be one of the highest scoring games in tourney history.

After the Capahas tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fourth, Millstadt took advantage of a Cape error and some timely hitting, the big blow being a two-run homer by Mitch Matecki to open up an 8-3 lead after four.

Kossina helped Millstadt build on that lead in the fifth with a three-run homer to give the Green Machine what looked like a commanding lead.

But Cape Girardeau did not go away without a fight, scoring nine runs over the next three innings. Millstadt added a few runs of their own to hold on for a 17-12 win and a berth in the championship game.

The two teams combined for 29 runs on 35 hits.

Corey Renois picked up the win for Millstadt and Kossina had five RBIs with a double and a home run.

“Corey pitched a really good game for us today and our hitters stepped up when we needed them to,” Toenjes said after the game.

The second semifinal game pitted old rivals, the Millers and Lakers.

Waterloo starter Jeremy Rettig and Valmeyer starter Andrew Flett locked horns in a pitchers’ duel through the first four innings as the Millers clung to a 1-0 lead on an RBI ground out in the second inning from Wade Koester.

The Millers finally got to Flett in the fifth, scoring three runs with the big blow being a two-run blast by Ohlau for a 4-0 lead.
Rettig continued to pitch a gem, allowing just one run on a Ben Thoma home run in the top of the eighth.

“We just could not get the hits when we needed and that turned the momentum in their favor. They had some timely hitting,” Lakers manager Dennis Pieper said. “That home run in the eighth pretty much closed the door on us. The pitching on both sides was outstanding.”

The homer in the bottom of the eighth off the bat of Jason Harrison, a three-run shot, sent the Millers to the championship game with an 8-1 win.

“It starts with pitching. Jeremy threw a heck of a ballgame and defensively we played well and got some big hits when we needed them,” Friederich said. “The Lakers are a tough team. We always know it’s going to be a battle when we play them.”
Valmeyer faced off with Cape Girardeau in the third place game on Sunday.

The Lakers had a 7-6 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth but a three-run homer from the Capahas put them up 9-7.

Cape took advantage of some Lakers miscues in the sixth to open the lead to 11-7. That would prove to be the final.

“Both teams scored runs early, but we just could not slow them down,” Pieper said.

For a gallery of photos from this year’s tournament, click here.

Greg Stanek

Greg is a photojournalist and nurse. He shoots and does stories for the R-T. He grew up in Troy and has lived in Waterloo for 10 years with his wife Teena, a life-long Waterloo resident. Greg is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan and loves the outdoors and fly fishing.