Millstadt advances to Mon-Clair final

Millstadt players celebrate after edging Waterloo, 6-5, in the semifinals of the Mon-Clair League playoffs Sunday at Whitey Herzog Field in Belleville. See more photos from the game online at

It will be the Millstadt Green Machine against the Cape Girardeau Capahas in the 2021 Mon-Clair League playoff championship this weekend in Valmeyer.

In Belleville on Sunday, Millstadt outlasted the Waterloo Millers, 6-5, in what was the final game for Waterloo’s Vern Moehrs. 

The legendary longtime manager, who turned 87 on Friday, was congratulated by current and former players, coaches and league officials after the game.

The Millers entered Sunday’s game as an underdog, but jumped out to a 3-1 lead early against the Green Machine. 

Nate Albrecht singled, stole second and scored on a single by Keegan Baxmeyer in the top of the first inning for Waterloo. An Albrecht RBI single scored Adam Goss in the second inning, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ty Kueper in the third put Waterloo in decent shape. 

Millstadt scored its first run on a passed ball in the second inning.

John Hilpert came through with an RBI triple for Millstadt in the third inning, and he wound up scoring on a passed ball to make it 3-3 after three innings.

A long leadoff home run deep to left off the bat of Baxmeyer against Millstadt starter Mac Grant broke the tie temporarily in the top of the fifth inning.

The score remained 4-3 until the bottom of the seventh inning, when the Kossina brothers went to work. 

Joey Kossina led off with a bad hop single over the second baseman’s head, and then he stole second. Tony Kossina followed with a single, advancing Joey to third. Cal Kossina hit a sac fly deep to left to tie the game at 4-4.

With two outs and first base open, the Millers opted to intentionally walk Austin Francis to pitch to Millstadt catcher Jack Toenjes. Francis stole second during the at-bat, which went to a full count. Toenjes won the battle, fighting off a tough, borderline pitch low in the zone to drive it into center and score two runs.

Francis scoring that second run proved to be crucial in the ninth inning, as Waterloo put together a rally.

Trey Kueper led off with a chopper to shortstop that resulted in an infield single. Albrecht followed with a clean single to right, and a Baxmeyer single gave the Millers bases loaded with no outs. Tom Purschke reached on an infield single, scoring Kueper to make it 6-5.

But Millstadt relief pitcher Andrew Yancik was somehow able to wriggle out of the mess, striking out the next two Waterloo batters and getting a flyout to center to end the game.

Albrecht had four hits on the day to lead the Millers.

On Saturday, Francis had three hits, including a home run, as Millstadt won 9-2 over Belleville. Brett Bunselmeyer also had three hits for the Green Machine, which won behind strong starting pitching by Logan Boente.

Waterloo advanced to Sunday’s semifinals courtesy of an 11-1 victory over Valmeyer. Managing the Millers was longtime Waterloo High School head coach Mark Vogel, as Moehrs had a family function.

Albrecht went 2-for-2 with two stolen bases and two runs and Baxmeyer went 2-for-4 with four RBIs to lead Waterloo’s offense over the Lakers. Waterloo lefty ace Matt McGilvray pitched six and two-thirds innings with five strikeouts and just one run allowed.

Ethan Ruff led Valmeyer with two hits and a run.

The final regular season game for Moehrs was last Wednesday in Brentwood, Mo., with the Millers winning 3-1 over the St. Louis Printers to conclude league play. Vogel, who played for Moehrs and coached alongside him for many years, was in the dugout to assist in managing that game.

The Missouri teams in the Mon-Clair League played this past weekend in Jackson, Mo., with Cape Girardeau’s Austin Dill blanking the St. Louis Printers, 5-0, and the Southeast Missouri Tropics upsetting the St. Louis Spikes, 11-10, on Saturday.

On Sunday, Cape Girardeau’s Landon Tenkhoff hit a walk-off home run to send the Capahas to the playoff finals, 8-7 over the Tropics.

So, the stage is set for Millstadt vs. Cape Girardeau in a best-of-three series that begins 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Borsch Park in Valmeyer. Game two will be at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, with game three (if needed) at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Millstadt lost to Belleville in last year’s Mon-Clair playoffs final, also played at Borsch Park.

For more photos from this weekend’s action, click here.

Waterloo Millers manager Vern Moehrs and Millstadt manager Norm “Shorty” Toenjes chat after Sunday’s game as Vern’s wife Lucille looks on. (Corey Saathoff photo)
At center, Waterloo’s Keegan Baxmeyer is congratulated by teammates following his leadoff home run in the top of the fifth inning on Sunday. At right is Nate Albrecht, who had four hits on the day. (Corey Saathoff photo)
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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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