Mon-Clair playoffs begin this weekend

Waterloo’s Brad Dillenberger looks back after sliding into second base on a play by Valmeyer shortstop Cole Juelfs during a game earlier this season. (Corey Saathoff photo)

A competitive regular season has ended in the Mon-Clair League as the playoffs get underway starting Saturday with games in Waterloo and Fairview Heights. 

Seven of the league’s nine teams finished with records at or above .500, with the Cape Girardeau Capahas earning the top overall playoff seed by virtue of a 16-8 record to win the St. Clair Division in their first season in the league.

In the Monroe Division, the Millstadt Green Machine narrowly edged the Valmeyer Lakers for the crown. Both teams finished at 14-10, but Millstadt went 2-1 against the Lakers this season to win the tiebreaker.

On Saturday, Millstadt defeated the Belleville Rockies, 10-7, before falling 5-4 to the Fairview Heights Redbirds.

Darius Ford went 2-for-3 with a stolen base and two runs scored and Rob Beatty was 2-for-4 with four RBIs for the Green Machine against Belleville.

Cal Kossina went 3-for-3 with three triples, Ford went 2-for-2 and Jacob Wilson went 2-for-4 for Millstadt in the loss to Fairview Heights. Ben Hankammer took the loss in relief.

Millstadt is led at the plate this summer by shortstop Tony Kossina, who is hitting .352 with 14 stolen bases and 20 runs. Other top hitters are Luke Matecki (.333, 16 RBIs) and Rob Beatty (.326, 20 RBIs).

Cal Kossina leads the Millstadt pitching staff at 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 56 and two-thirds innings.

With the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, Millstadt will battle the Waterloo Millers (12-12) at noon Saturday at SPPS Field in Waterloo to open the postseason.

The winner of this game will battle the winner of Valmeyer vs. Belleville at 3 p.m. Sunday in Belleville.

The Lakers topped Waterloo on Saturday, 9-4, but lost to Cape Girardeau, 5-2.

In the win over Waterloo, Drew Quinones went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs, Wes Degener went 3-for-4 with three runs, and Easton Wallace went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Ian Miller pitched a complete game for the victory. 

Mike Hardin went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs for the Millers. Noah Thaggard took the loss on the mound.

In Valmeyer’s loss to the Capahas, Degener had a double and RBI and Mark Nappier went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Wallace took the loss on the hill.

The Lakers feature a dynamic lineup that includes Mitch Meyer (.426, 16 runs), Degener (.407, 13 runs), Wallace (.400, 10 RBIs, 11 runs) and Matt Reinholz (.379, 17 RBIs). Quinones and Nappier have each hit four home runs.

Valmeyer opens postseason play 3 p.m. Saturday at SPPS Field in Waterloo against Belleville.

In addition to Waterloo’s loss to Valmeyer, the Millers suffered a hard-fought 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Capahas on Saturday. 

Andy Galle smacked a grand slam home run in the sixth inning to nearly bring the Millers back from an early deficit, but Waterloo just couldn’t quite tie it.

Fellow Millers veteran Craig Ohlau went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Keegan Baxmeyer also went 2-for-3 in the loss. Jeremy Rettig pitched six innings in defeat.

Waterloo bounced back Sunday to close out the regular season with a 4-0 win over Fairview Heights. Ethan Ruff went 4-for-4 with three stolen bases and two RBIs. Andrew Yancik struck out seven over six shutout innings for the mound victory.

The Millers are led on offense by Baxmeyer (.424, 12 runs), Ruff (.391, 23 stolen bases, 24 runs), Cory Lubinski (.390, 14 RBIs) and Quinten Albrecht (.367, 10 runs).

Waterloo’s top pitchers this season have been Yancik (3-1, 1.31 ERA in 32 innings) and Rettig (6-3, 2.96 ERA in 52 innings).

The last teams standing after playoff games this weekend will meet in the three-game Mon-Clair League tourney final set for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 11-12, in Belleville.

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