Millstadt takes Mon-Clair trifecta

The Millstadt Green Machine celebrates after sweeping Cape Girardeau in the Mon-Clair League playoff finals Saturday afternoon at Borsch Park in Valmeyer. 

It’s “mission accomplished” for the Millstadt Green Machine, who completed a season title trifecta in the Mon-Clair League over the weekend for the first time in its history. 

After winning the Valmeyer Midsummer Classic title over the July 4 holiday and then the Monroe Division regular season crown earlier this month, Millstadt swept the best-of-three Mon-Clair League championship series against Cape Girardeau at Borsch Park in Valmeyer on Saturday. 

Millstadt reached the playoff finals by downing rival Belleville and Waterloo the weekend prior.

On Saturday, the Green Machine won game one over the Capahas, 5-3, holding on after leading 4-0 through four innings. 

Cal Kossina went 3-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs and Logan Boente was the winning pitcher after going five innings. 

In game two, Millstadt blasted off to a 10-0 lead before winning 13-7. 

Austin Francis went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs, Cal Kossina and Brian Lupa each went 3-for-4, and Joey Kossina went 3-for-5. 

Mac Grant was the winning pitcher in the title game, going five and two-thirds innings. 

Cal Kossina and Francis were chosen as playoff co-MVPs. Kossina went 8-for-14 at the plate with five runs, five singles, two doubles, a home run, a hit by pitch, two stolen bases and two RBIs for the playoffs. Francis went 9-for-14 with four runs scored, five singles, two doubles, two home runs, two bases on balls, one stolen base and four RBIs.

Boente led Millstadt’s pitching staff in the playoffs with wins against Belleville and Cape Girardeau, throwing 11 and two-thirds innings with eight strikeouts and allowing only one earned run for a 0.60 ERA.

As for this being the first time Millstadt has ever won all three titles in one summer, longtime manager Norm “Shorty” Toenjes said “that says a lot about our guys.”

Toenjes said that having the Kossina brothers (Tony, Cal and Joey) on the same team “is a great place to start” in terms of success, but also his team was good at running, bunting and whatever else was needed to get the job done.

“It seemed like when we got guys on the bases we were able to put in some runs,” he said. “Our guys accepted what was asked of them and they were an unselfish team.”

Toenjes said Joey Kossina provided a spark when he joined the team just prior to the Valmeyer tourney. He ended up leading the league in hitting at .556. 

Francis provided pop in the lineup, Toenjes added. He hit six home runs this summer counting league, tourney and playoff action.

Dillon Sunnquist was eighth in the league in hitting this season at .415.

The manager also said his pitching staff had depth. Garrett Herring went 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA. Mac Grant went 4-1 with a 4.20 ERA. 

Toenjes said the key pitching moment in the playoffs was when reliever Andrew Yancik was somehow able to wriggle out of a bases loaded, no out, jam in the ninth inning as the Green Machine pulled off a one-run win in the semifinals.

“Of all the teams I’ve coached, this team probably played the closest to its potential,” Toenjes assessed. “They kept bouncing back, played hard every game and played together.”

Millstadt, which lost to Belleville in the league playoff finals last season, won the league playoffs in 2019. 

Prior to that, the Green Machine won the playoffs for the first time in 2015.

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