Rain no match for Midsummer Classic
The Valmeyer Midsummer Classic has battled Mother Nature many times in the past, either canceling the baseball tournament altogether or shaving off some games.
Thanks to a new tarp recently led in funding by longtime Valmeyer Lakers supporter George Obernagel, a late Saturday afternoon downpour did little to stop this year’s classic.
With a back-and-forth battle brewing between the defending tourney champion Belleville Rockies and the Waterloo Buds, a rain shower descended on Old Valmeyer. Members of the Valmeyer Lakers, Belleville Rockies and Waterloo Buds joined in and rushed the tarp onto the field, after which players, coaches and fans waited out the wetness.
The tarp was removed and baseball resumed, with the Rockies eventually edging the Buds, 11-10. The Lakers were forced to play their first round game first thing Saturday morning, but that was just a minor blip in an otherwise pleasant weekend of tourney action.
Due to the July 4 holiday, the Republic-Times went to press Monday night and thus was not able to print the end result of this year’s tourney this week. Rest assured, the newspaper was out covering the title tilt Tuesday afternoon and will report in print next week.
Saturday’s opening round saw the upstart Edwardsville Stags upset the Millstadt Green Machine, 3-2, followed by the St. Louis Spikes torching the Cape Girardeau Capahas by the count of 10-0.
The Saturday afternoon showdown between Belleville and Waterloo featured multiple lead changes.
The Buds took an early 3-0 lead on shoddy defensive play in the first inning by the Rockies.
An RBI groundout by Jevon Boyd gave Belleville a much-needed early run to counter the early deficit.
Following an opposite field RBI hit off the bat of Belleville’s Jordan Heckler, a two-run homer by Rockies slugger Jonathan Foti and a sacrifice fly gave the defending champs a 5-3 lead after two innings.
The Buds battled back in the fourth inning, as former minor leaguer Lee Cruz smashed a deep double to left to give Waterloo a 6-5 lead.
That’s when the rain came and the tarp made its debut.
Following the rain delay, the Rockies plated four runs to go up 9-6.
Both scored twice over the next two innings, as Belleville led 11-8 in the eighth inning.
Buds outfielder Keegan Baxmeyer came through with a clutch two-out, two-RBI hit in that frame to make it interesting at 11-10.
Fortunately for the Rockies, the hard-throwing Boyd came on to close out the game after the first two Waterloo hitters reached base in the ninth.
Facing the prospect of two games in the heat on Sunday, the sizzling hot Lakers were not fazed.
Valmeyer opened up Sunday’s action with a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Printers. Trevor Davis started and Kenny Otero finished on the mound for the Lakers, who are 12-1 in league play this season.
To end Sunday’s slate, Valmeyer posted another 5-3 win – this time over the Rockies. The Lakers led 5-1 early, with a Dom Voegele home run among the offensive highlights for Valmeyer.
Belleville battled back late, but the Lakers held on to advance to the tourney final on Tuesday afternoon.
Facing the Lakers in the final were the Edwardsville Stags, who followed up Saturday’s opening round win over Millstadt by topping the Spikes on Sunday, 5-3.
Playing in the third place game on Tuesday were the Rockies and Spikes. The Rockies won to claim third place.
Read about Tuesday’s championship game by clicking here.