With regular season play concluding this weekend, it’s still a four-team race for the Monroe Division title in the Mon-Clair League.
“This is the closest I’ve seen it in many years,” longtime Waterloo Millers manager Vern Moehrs said.
The Millstadt Green Machine (13-9) now hold a slight lead over the Belleville Rockies (12-9), with the Valmeyer Lakers (11-9) and Waterloo Millers (11-10) still in range but needing their cards to fall exactly in place.
Millstadt won three of four games over the weekend, outlasting the Fairview Heights Redbirds in two extra-inning contests Saturday before splitting a Sunday doubleheader with the St. Louis Printers.
The Green Machine won 3-2 in eight innings and 1-0 in nine innings on Saturday. Cal Kossina went the distance on the mound in the first win, allowing just five hits. Brian Lupa and Cole Hensel combined to shut out the Redbirds in the second game, allowing only six hits.
Jacob Wilson, Brett Bunselmeyer, Rob Beatty and Lupa collected two hits each in the first game. Alex Quirin went 2-for-4 with a run and Ryan Hurley went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the second game.
On Sunday, Millstadt won 6-3 and lost 4-3 to the Printers. Wilson went 7-for-7 on the day with four runs. Hurley went 4-for-6 with four RBIs on the day.
Lupa leads the team in hitting at .385, followed by Tony Kossina at .366 with 16 runs and Luke Matecki at .340 with 15 RBIs.
Cal Kossina is 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 50 innings pitched for the Green Machine. They go to battle against Belleville and Fairview Heights on Saturday. Belleville also plays Fairview Heights on Saturday and will close its season against the St. Louis Spikes on Sunday.
Waterloo split a Sunday doubleheader at home against the Rockies, winning 5-3 and falling 6-3.
Keegan Baxmeyer went 6-for-8 on the day to lead the Millers offensively. He also made a sensational catch at the fence in right-centerfield to rob powerful Rockies hitter Mike Breyman of a potential home run in the first game.
In addition to Baxmeyer’s 3-for-4 showing in the game one win, Lucas Wetzler went 2-for-3 with a run and Ethan Ruff added two hits and a stolen base.
Jeremy Rettig pitched five and one-third innings for the victory.
In game two, Ruff walked and advanced to third on a wild pick-off attempt. Chandler Purcell singled to drive him home, and the Millers led 1-0 after one inning.
Belleville took a 2-1 lead in the second and added another run in the third on a mammoth home run by Breyman over the green storage shed in right at SPPS Field.
Noah Thaggard took the loss on the hill for Waterloo.
Cory Lubinski is hitting .411 with 14 RBIs to lead the Millers, followed by Baxmeyer at .404, Ruff at .382 with 23 runs, Purcell at .370, Quentin Albrecht at .357 and Wetzler at .346 with 10 runs.
Rettig is 6-2 with an ERA under 3.00 to lead the Millers pitching staff.
Waterloo hosts Valmeyer and Cape Girardeau on Saturday starting at noon, then closes out the regular season at home against Fairview Heights on Sunday.
The Lakers went 2-2 this past weekend, winning 8-3 and 11-7 against the Spikes on Saturday, but falling 14-7 and 13-4 to Cape Girardeau on Sunday.
In the 8-3 win, John Wuelling went 3-for-3 with two runs, an RBI and stolen base. Easton Wallace went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and AJ Skaer went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Andrew Hoguet threw a complete game four-hitter.
In the 11-7 win, Valmeyer pounded out 16 total hits. Collecting two hits each for the Lakers were Wuelling, Wallace, Skaer, Cole Juelfs, Mark Nappier, Justin Lilly and Aaron Kuper. Wallace also pitched five innings for the victory.
On Sunday, Valmeyer pitchers had trouble keeping the Cape Girardeau bats in line, surrendering 27 runs.
Wuelling continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-4 with a stolen base and three RBIs in the 14-7 loss. Nappier blasted two home runs.
In the 13-4 defeat, Lilly and Drew Quinones each homered for the Lakers, who play Charleston for two on Thursday in Waterloo before ending the regular season against Waterloo and Cape Girardeau at SPPS Field on Saturday.
Mitch Meyer leads Valmeyer, and the entire league, in hitting at .455 to go along with 15 runs. Other top hitters for the Lakers are Wallace (.389, 10 runs), Wes Degener (.377, 10 runs), Matt Reinholz (.371, 16 RBIs), Wuelling (.375, 15 RBIs, 15 runs) and Juelfs (.368).
Wallace also leads the Valmeyer pitching staff at 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA. Hoguet is 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA.
All-Star Game result
The St. Clair Division All-Stars defeated the Monroe Division, 7-4, in this year’s Mon-Clair League All-Star Game last Wednesday night at Fairview Heights.
Former Waterloo Miller Jake Frierdich of Fairview Heights was named MVP of the game after collecting two hits and an RBI with a run scored.