The Waterloo High School baseball team edged Monroe County rival Columbia, 3-1, for the Class 3A Columbia Regional championship at Eagleview Elementary on Saturday.
Waterloo ace righthander Drake Downing surrendered just one hit and walked two in an impressive complete game effort against Eagles ace Shane Wilhelm.
Downing struck out five and walked two in the one-hit gem, lowering his season ERA to 1.92 and improving his season record to 6-3. He now has 80 strikeouts in 58.3 innings pitched this season.
“Drake pitched an incredible game,” Waterloo head coach Mark Vogel said, adding that Downing’s slider kept Columbia’s hitters off balance.
Wilhelm, who will play baseball at Mizzou next season, finished his season with a record of 6-2 with a 1.14 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 61.3 innings.
“We knew runs would be at a premium. We knew it would be a challenging game with Wilhelm on the mound,” Vogel said.
Tyson Roedl’s two-run single in the first gave the ‘Dogs an early lead.
“To me, that was the key of the game,” Vogel said. “It gave Drake an early cushion.”
Vogel said his team made the most of its early chance to strike against Columbia’s ace, who was a bit wild in the first.
“If you don’t get him early, you’re probably not going to get to him at all,” Vogel said.
Ty Kueper added an RBI double in the second for Waterloo.
Josh Marion had the only hit for Columbia, who ended its season at 24-9.
Waterloo (20-12) battles Marion in the Salem Sectional at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. With a victory, the ‘Dogs would play for the sectional title at 11 a.m. Saturday. Highland and Carbondale are the other two teams in the sectional.
Waterloo won 12-2 over Freeburg on Thursday to advance to the regional final. Josh Wittenauer and Graham Baker collected two hits each and Dustin Crawford pitched a five-inning complete game.
Crawford is 9-2 on the mound this season with a 1.67 ERA.
Kueper leads Waterloo in hitting at .413 with 22 RBIs and 10 doubles. Wittenauer is hitting .375 with 24 runs and 10 stolen bases. Marcus Heusohn is hitting .312 with four home runs and 16 RBIs.
Columbia won 26-0 over Cahokia last Wednesday to advance to the regional final. Josh Marion went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and four runs. AJ Mueller went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and three runs. Brandon Kuchinski picked up the pitching win.
Mueller led the Eagles in hitting at .394 with five home runs and 44 RBIs. Sam Horner hit .388 with 40 runs. Marion hit .352 with 43 runs and 18 stolen bases.