After all the dust had settled in the first weekend of playoff action, all three local Mon-Clair League baseball teams were going home for the summer.
It will be the Belleville Rockies taking on the St. Louis Printers at Whitey Herzog Field in Belleville this Saturday and Sunday, if necessary, for the league championship. The best-of-three-game series begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Rockies lost in the final last season to the St. Louis Spikes. The Printers are hoping to reclaim the title after winning it all in 2016.
For the Waterloo Millers, Valmeyer Lakers and Millstadt Green Machine, all they can do now is look ahead to 2019.
On Saturday, the Millers posted a thrilling 4-3 victory over Millstadt at SPPS Field in Waterloo.
Cory Lubinski hit an RBI double to score Ethan Ruff and put Waterloo up 1-0 in the top of the first inning. The score remained that way until catcher Quinten Albrecht’s two-out RBI single in the fourth gave the Millers a 2-0 lead.
Waterloo added another run in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Chandler Purcell that turned out to be an amazing catch in deep centerfield by Millstadt’s Darius Ford.
Waterloo starting pitcher Andrew Yancik was cruising along until the fifth inning when Millstadt loaded the bases with no outs. A sacrifice fly made it 3-1, and a single by Jacob Wilson scored another run but the tying run was thrown out at the plate.
Another Millstadt runner was gunned down at the plate on a nice tag by Albrecht to end the sixth inning, and Waterloo clung to a 3-2 lead.
Sidearming righty Marshall Shill relieved Yancik and following a double by Wilson, Millstadt finally tied the score on an RBI hit from Rob Beatty in the eighth inning.
The Millers prevailed on this day, however, as Albrecht doubled in the top of the ninth and a hard-hit chopper off the bat of Mike Hardin forced an errant throw by Millstadt shortstop Tony Kossina, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Shill retired Millstadt in the bottom of the ninth to preserve Waterloo’s 4-3 win.
In the other game at SPPS Field on Saturday, Belleville rolled to a 12-2 win over Valmeyer. This set up a Sunday semifinal match between Waterloo and Belleville at Whitey Herzog Field.
Rockies starting pitcher Anthony Garza outdueled Waterloo’s Jeremy Rettig and Dan Munoz and Mike Breyman each hit two-run homers for Belleville in a 9-5 win.
The Printers advanced to the finals on their side of the playoff bracket by posting identical 6-5 victories over the Cape Girardeau Capahas and St. Louis Spikes over the weekend.
Belleville’s roster features Waterloo High School graduates Alex Wittenauer and Cole Milam. Wittenauer, a utility player, is hitting .353. Milam, a relief pitcher, has an ERA of 1.62.