Millers red hot heading into Mon-Clair playoffs

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Waterloo’s LJ Watson slides into third with a triple during a game last month against Belleville. For more photos of Mon-Clair League action, visit www.republictimes.net/photo-store. (Greg Stanek photo)

The Waterloo Millers head into this week’s Mon-Clair League playoffs on a high note after taking two games from the Valmeyer Lakers on Saturday at SPPS Field.

Andy Galle threw five innings of shutout ball as the Millers (23-3) cruised to an 11-0 win in game one of the doubleheader.

The Millers scored in every inning, highlighted by a seven-run third that saw them bat around. Five players picked up RBIs in the frame. Brad Dillenberger hit a two-run double in the inning and Justin Dunning added a two-run single to put the Millers up 10-0 after three innings.

Jake Friederich added an RBI single in the fourth to put the Millers up 11-0, and Galle shut down the Lakers in the fifth for the five-inning complete game win.

Game two was a much tighter affair, as both teams failed to score through the first three innings.

The Lakers finally got on the board in the fourth on a two-run single by Reid Hoffman to put Valmeyer up 2-0.

Waterloo got a run back in the bottom of the fourth. After Justin Dunning took a pitch off his helmet, Craig Ohlau hit an RBI single to right to cut the Valmeyer lead to 2-1.

The Millers sent eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three runs — one on a passed ball with a runner on third followed by a bases loaded walk to force home another run to put Waterloo up 4-2.

The Lakers were unable to get anything going the rest of the game. Nick Dunning came on in the seventh to pick up the save and a 4-2 Millers win.

Alex Wittenauer went six innings to pick up his second win in as many weeks.

“We played very well today. We had great pitching from Galle and Wittenauer and the defense was very solid. We got a lot of hits when we needed them today and everyone contributed,” Mill

ers coach Mark Vogel said. “We are playing very good ball heading into the playoffs, but it’s a new season now. What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter here. It’s a single elimination format, so you have to be ready to play each game and you can’t look past anyone.”

The Lakers, who started the season very strong, struggled down the stretch, losing 11 of their last 13 games.

“We just could not stop the Millers in the first game. We kept the second game close, but a mistake by our pitcher not covering first and too many walks really cost us,” Lakers manager Dennis Pieper said. “The playoffs are anyone’s to win. Millstadt has a good pitcher in Lidisky. If we can play well defensively and get some hits, we have a chance to advance.”

Millstadt (16-10) hosted the pesky and much improved Columbia Saints (6-20) on Saturday at Mueth Field.

The VFW took the first game, 10-0. Lidisky threw five shutout innings to pick up the win.

The Saints hung around for a bit in game two before the VFW pulled away for an 11-5 win.

Alex Kollack pitched three innings to pick up the win for Millstadt.

“We swung the bats very well against Columbia on Saturday. Hopefully it will carry over into the playoffs,” Millstadt VFW manager Norm Toenjes said. “I figured we would get Valmeyer in game one of the playoffs… It will be a tough game. First round games are dangerous. Every team has one good pitcher, so it will be a challenge.”

Playoff time

The playoffs begin today (Wednesday) at Whitey Herzog Field in Belleville. The Millers open at 6:30 p.m. against the St. Louis Printers (9-17). The Millers faced the Printers twice during the regular season, winning both games.

The Lakers will face Millstadt in their first round game on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. The Lakers and VFW faced each other four times during the regular season with Millstadt winning three of them.

This is a single elimination tournament, so if you lose, you are done.

The winners of the Waterloo-Printers and Valmeyer-Millstadt games will face off Saturday at 10 a.m. for the right to advance to the best-of-three championship series against the winner of the St. Clair Division bracket.

The first game of the championship starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday and games two and three take place Sunday.

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