Millers keep first place hopes alive

Waterloo’s L.J. Watson is tagged out by Valmeyer’s Marshall Vallandingham, while trying to steal third base in Sunday’s rivalry doubleheader. (Greg Stanek photo)

The Waterloo Millers took two from rival Valmeyer on Sunday, keeping their slim hopes alive of taking first place in the division heading into the playoffs in two weeks.

Waterloo (14-7) took game one, 8-3, with three unearned runs, as Valmeyer (9-13) had defensive issues all day long. Jake Friederich went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Bryce Bastein was 2-for-3 with an RBI as well. Mid-season pick up L.J. Watson went 3-for-4 on the day for the Millers. Toeing the rubber in the first game for Waterloo, Andy Galle pitched 4 2/3 innings to pick up the victory.

Ben Thoma and Adam Kunkel each had RBIs for Valmeyer in a losing effort.

“I think we are doing very well right now,” Waterloo Manager Vern Moehrs told the Republic-Times after Sunday’s doubleheader. “We added Watson at mid-season, which gave us a more balanced lineup and some added speed on the bases.”

Game No. 2 saw Waterloo jump out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on a double off the bat of Nick Dunning, who would prove to be a hard out the entire game.

Valmeyer looked to get back into the game in the second inning, loading the bases but unable to get the key hit they needed with runners in scoring position. The Lakers were not able to generate much more offense the rest of the game.

Millers starting pitcher Brett Vanover and their solid defense would prove to be too much for Valmeyer for the second time on Sunday.

Waterloo added three runs in the second inning, with two runs coming off a double from the bat of Watson on a ball that should have been caught. Waterloo added runs in the third and fourth innings to increase their lead, 7-0.

Bastein notched an RBI double in the fifth, and Valmeyer’s shaky defense allowed the final two runs to score on throwing errors giving Waterloo the 10-0 shutout victory in five innings.

Valmeyer has sealed its fate in the league playoffs as the No.6 seed, according to the Mon-Clair League’s Special Projects Manager Lenny Voelker, but Waterloo’s seeding is yet to be determined. They have three games remaining in the regular season, while division leader Millstadt (17-5) has two games left. Millstadt is coming off a doubleheader sweep against Belleville on Sunday (10-7, 4-3).

If Waterloo wins their last three games and Millstadt loses their two remaining games, they will be tied and Waterloo would get the nod, due to winning two of the pair’s three head-to-head contests.

Waterloo plays Wednesday night at SPPCS Athletic Field at 7 p.m., against the Belleville Rockies. They finish the regular season on Saturday at SPPCS with a noon game against Valmeyer and a 4 p.m. match-up against Edwardsville. The Lakers will also play at 2 p.m. against the Mavericks in the league triple header.

Meanwhile, Millstadt hopes to defend the regular season division title with a game against Belleville at 2 p.m., and the Redbirds at 4 p.m. at Longacre Park in Fairview Heights.

Check the page for a league play-off bracket when it is released early next week.

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