The Mon-Clair League playoffs begin this Saturday in Cape Girardeau, Mo., but the most decorated team in league history won’t be there.
The Waterloo Millers (formerly the Buds) have won 23 total league playoff championships along with 42 division titles over the years.
The manager at the helm of all those baseball accomplishments, Vern Moehrs, said the league’s decision to have all eight teams play Saturday in one location factored into his team opting out of the postseason.
“I think my better judgement is not to go into that type of environment,” the 86-year-old skipper told the Republic-Times.
Mon-Clair League President Don Barton confirmed that Waterloo is not participating in the playoffs.
“We are proceeding with a seven-team format,” he said.
Barton explained the league’s decision to hold the entire first round of the playoffs in Cape Girardeau.
“The original team vote was to hold the first round in Cape. A suggestion for discussion was given to the teams about two weeks ago regarding multiple sites. There was not enough support to change the original format,” Barton said. “The pandemic was around when the original vote was taken, knowing that there would be no baseball unless we got to Phase 4.”
The 2020 regular season was delayed at the start and condensed to 14 games due to COVID-19 restrictions implemented throughout the state and region.
The winners from Saturday in Cape Girardeau will play in the semifinals at Borsch Park in Valmeyer on Sunday, with the first game starting at 1 p.m. The championship game is set to take place about 4 p.m.
Waterloo ended its regular season at 7-7 after splitting doubleheaders with Fairview Heights on Thursday and Valmeyer on Saturday.
The Millers won 10-2 and lost 6-2 against Fairview Heights.
A five-run sixth inning propelled Waterloo in the first game as Ethan Ruff went 3-for-4 with three runs, Adam Goss hit a grand slam and Keegan Baxmeyer added a double and three RBIs.
In the second game, the Redbirds plated three runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth to emerge victorious.
Waterloo won 11-1 and lost 4-3 to Valmeyer on Saturday.
Ruff went 4-for-4 with three stolen bases and four runs, Ty Kueper hit a home run and had three RBIs and righthander Dalton Erger pitched six solid innings for the game one win. See photos from that game by clicking here.
In game two, Valmeyer’s Jacob Hill plated the go-ahead run with a single in the ninth inning. He went 2-for-5 in the game. Mark Nappier went 3-for-4 and Trevor Davis and Jacob Rowold added two hits apiece for the Lakers.
Waterloo High School senior-to-be Dustin Crawford pitched four scoreless innings of relief for Valmeyer to pick up his first career Mon-Clair League victory.
The Lakers (5-9) will face the Belleville Rockies (6-8) in the playoffs at 3 p.m. Saturday. The winner of that contest will face undefeated Cape Girardeau (12-0), the top seed and St. Clair Division champion, to end Saturday action.
Monroe Division champion Millstadt (11-3) closed its regular season with a pair of wins Saturday over Fairview Heights, 14-3 and 13-8. The Green Machine has the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and will open the playoffs at 12:30 p.m. Saturday against Fairview Heights.
Millstadt enjoyed seven-run innings in both Saturday wins.
The league’s top hitter, Joey Kossina, went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs for Millstadt in the first game. Will Lanxon, the league’s second-leading hitter, also went 3-for-5 with two runs. Andrew Yancik struck out nine in six innings for the mound victory.
The Green Machine got two hits apiece from Brett Bunselmeyer, Cal Kossina and John Hilpert, and Joey Kossina pitched four innings for the game two win.