With just a handful of games remaining in the Mon-Clair League regular season, the race for the Monroe Division title is still too close to call.
The Belleville Rockies, last year’s league champion, sit in first place at 14-4, followed by the Waterloo Millers (12-5), Millstadt Green Machine (11-7) and Fairview Heights Redbirds (11-7).
The Valmeyer Lakers are 6-14.
This Sunday, Belleville and Waterloo will clash at SPPS Field in a doubleheader that could go a long way in determining the division.
The Millers split doubleheaders with the St. Louis Printers and Fairview Heights over the weekend.
On Saturday, Waterloo lost 2-0 in nine innings and won 8-5 over the Printers.
Waterloo’s Reid Hendrickson threw seven shutout innings in the first game against the Printers, but St. Louis scratched across two runs off the Millers’ bullpen to emerge victorious.
Waterloo jumped out with five runs in the first inning of the second game and added three more in the second inning to go up 8-0 early.
Kade Burns, Mitchell Krebs, Keegan Baxmeyer and Bailey Zimmer contributed two hits each for the Millers in the win.
On Sunday, Waterloo lost a hard-fought first game with the Redbirds, 5-3. The game was tied 3-3 after four innings, but Fairview Heights plated single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to pull it out.
Parker Stidham took the loss on the mound and both Baxmeyer and DJ Miller collected two hits apiece for Waterloo.
In game two, the Waterloo bats came alive in a 9-2 victory. Ethan Ruff, Krebs, Miller, Burns and Zack Seiler finished with two hits each. Grant Jausel, a 6-foot-2 lefty who pitched at Rend Lake College, stymied the Fairview Heights offense, allowing just three hits in five shutout innings.
Waterloo, which plays at Charleston (4-13) this Saturday prior to Sunday’s showdown with Belleville, is led on offense by Baxmeyer (.383, 10 RBIs), followed by Krebs (.365, nine RBIs, 12 runs), Ruff (.349, 10 stolen bases, 10 RBIs, 13 runs) and Logan Mueth (.342).
The leading pitchers for Waterloo are righties Hendrickson (1-0, 0.84 ERA) and Stidham (4-3, 3.20 ERA), along with southpaw Brenden Garza (3-1, 3.62 ERA).
The Rockies went 3-1 over the weekend to remain tops in the division. Belleville split with Fairview Heights on Saturday before sweeping a twinbill over Valmeyer, 10-5 and 19-9.
Mike Breyman is hitting .424 with three home runs and 14 RBIs for Belleville. Pat Gaul is hitting .418.
Mike Krumm is 4-0 with a 3.61 ERA and Ryan Siverly is 2-1 with a 1.87 ERA for the Rockies’ pitching staff.
Millstadt won 17-5 and 12-1 over Valmeyer on Saturday, then split a Sunday doubleheader with Cape Girardeau.
The Green Machine pitching staff is led by righties Andrew Yancik (4-1, 1.08 ERA) and Cal Kossina (3-3, 4.67 ERA).
Millstadt is always known for offense, and right now Cal Kossina leads the way at .447 with 16 runs. Matt Janocik is hitting .393. Shortstop Tony Kossina is hitting .368 with 11 stolen bases and 19 runs. Darius Ford is hitting .321.
Millstadt hosts Valmeyer for two on Saturday before hosting Fairview Heights for two more on Sunday.
The Lakers have had no trouble scoring runs this summer, but pitching is another story. The team ERA is 7.12.
Valmeyer will hope to turn things around with doubleheaders against Millstadt on Saturday and the St. Louis Spikes on Sunday.
Matt Reinholz leads the Lakers in hitting at .396 with 10 RBIs, followed by Cole Juelfs (.347, 17 runs), Mitch Meyer (.333, three home runs, 12 RBIs), John Wuelling (.333, 10 stolen bases, 13 RBIs) and Mark Nappier (.311, three home runs, 15 RBIs).