Millstadt VFW won their final two games of the regular season, besting Belleville, 4-0, and Fairview Heights, 10-0, to hold on to the top spot in the Monroe Division over second place Waterloo on Saturday.
“After losing two games to Waterloo, we had to finish strong to keep the top spot in the division and we did,” Millstadt manager Norman Toenjes explained. “We had very strong pitching today.”
Much like the Millers, the VFW is coming into the playoffs at the top of their game, having won eight of their last 10 match-ups. Offensively, Millstadt has been led by Brian Lupa, who is hitting .440 and Mitch Matecki, who is hitting .433. The pitching staff is led by Sam Lidisky, who has an 8-1 record with a 2.39 ERA.
having lost three of their starting pitchers from last year and two position players.
“We had a lot to replace from last year’s roster. We have a very young team and I am very happy with how we have competed this season,” Toenjes told the Republic-Times. “We have been very strong offensively all year and have gotten very good pitching.”
Millstadt lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs after posting a strong season in 2012. They will open this year’s playoffs on Wednesday against the St. Louis Printers at 4:30 p.m. at Whitey Herzog Field in Belleville.
“You can’t overlook anyone in the playoffs,” Toenjes said. “If we get strong pitching, timely hitting and make some plays I think we have a shot. But it’s the playoffs and anything can happen.”