Patriots savor the moment

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Pictured, from left, recent Valmeyer High School graduates Sam Fitzwilliam, Philip Reinhardt, Riley McCarthy and John Fausz are honored as part of last Wednesday’s exhibition baseball game for the Valmeyer Patriots against Kirkwood, Mo., at GCS Ballpark in Sauget. 

The Valmeyer Patriots independent baseball program provided one final opportunity for some recent high school graduates to take the field together.

The Patriots, which feature players from Valmeyer, Waterloo and New Athens high schools, have fielded senior and junior level teams in the COVID League, which was formed  by a coach in Washington, Mo., after the American Legion seasons were canceled due to the pandemic.

The Patriots senior team wrapped up its season last week with a 7-5 record following an 8-4 win. 

Most of the damage occurred during a six-run second inning highlighted by singles from Joe Range, Drake Downing, Philip Reinhardt and a two-RBI hit off the bat of George Schneider.

Downing, who graduated this spring from Waterloo High School and will pitch at the University of Central Missouri, picked up the victory with two shutout innings of relief and four strikeouts.

The start of the Mon-Clair League season has driven most of the senior-level players away from further competition.

Last Wednesday night, four graduating seniors from Valmeyer High School joined on the baseball diamond one last time at GCS Ballpark in Sauget for a combined junior-senior Patriots exhibition contest against Kirkwood, Mo.

Reinhardt, Riley McCarthy, Sam Fitzwilliam and John Fausz – who won two state titles in junior high and enjoyed three regional titles and two state runner-up state finishes together as Pirates – all played in the game.

“(It was) very special to have them all there one last time,” Valmeyer head coach Greg Reinhardt said.

The Junior Patriots opened play in a Collinsville recreational league last week, going 1-1-1. 

Valmeyer won 7-1 over Collinsville. Elijah Miller led off the game with a walk, stole second and reached third when the catcher’s throw went into the outfield and scored on a wild  pitch. 

Miller opened the third inning with a walk and stolen base, scoring on Jordan McSchooler’s hit. 

McSchooler and James Range each went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

On Saturday, Valmeyer faced O’Fallon for doubleheader. The teams tied at 8-8 due to a time limit and lost 8-7.

Landon Roy went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI in the first game.

McSchooler had a two-RBI double in the second game. Clay Juelfs went 2-for-3 with a run. Miller went 1-for-3 with a run, two RBIs and double. Jacob Brewer went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

The Junior Patriots play Tuesday at Alton, Thursday at Pacific, Mo. and Saturday in Alton against Highland.

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