The Chillicothe Cardinals junior (AA) division?American?Legion baseball teams – in its first year of the program’s existence – is headed to the Eastern Missouri?Zone Tournament at Washington.
The Cardinals punched that ticket last night with a series-clinching 8-0 home victory over the Trenton Blue Jays at “June”?Shaffer Memorial?Park stadium.
That gave the Chillicothe-based club, sponsored by?Vern?R.?Glick Post No. 25, a sweep of the best-of-3 series with the team sponsored by Trenton’s Post No. 31.
According to Larry?Warren, Post No. 25’s baseball program coordinator, the combined Districts 1 and 2 in which Chillicothe is grouped with?Trenton,?Hannibal, and Memphis is entitled to one zone tournament berth for each district, rather than bring all four teams together to play through a double-elimination tournament to weed out only two of them, officials from the four programs and Legion posts involved agreed to have the two western teams – Chillicothe and Trenton – and two eastern teams square off in geographically-more-tenable best-of-3 series to produce the two zone reps.
Under that approach, Chillicothe’s capture of its series with Trenton advances it to the zone event, typically a 5-team, double-elimination tourney involving a team from each of four districts plus the host team.
According to Warren, that junior-division zone tournament will be hosted by?Washington, west of St. Louis, beginning July 19. Pairings, dates, and times for the first-round games won’t be firmly set until this weekend, but it is believed Chillicothe’s first game will be in the Eastern Missouri Zone Tournament will be scheduled for next Thursday, July 19.
Last night at Shaffer Park stadium, where the Chillicothe junior team actually was playing for the first time this season after having all of its regular-season home games at Daryl Danner Memorial?Park’s green field, was effectively decided in rapid fashion.
After Cardinals starting pitcher Logan?O’Dell easily worked around a game-opening walk to Ty Stillwell by getting two fly balls and a groundout, the Chillicothe offense pounced on Trenton Blue Jays starting pitcher Craig Richardson.
O’Dell opened the Cardinals’ first with a hit and moved up on a wild pickoff throw to first by the pitcher. After a walk to Brandon Murray, a double-steal put two runners in scoring position with no outs.
Richardson made a strong bid to escape the jam unscathed.
He got a pair of infield popups around a walk to Derek?Hussey, but the Cardinals didn’t let him off the hook.
A passed ball let the game’s first run score. Then Justin Fry’s fly ball to right field that could have been caught on the run to end the inning with the score still 0-0 instead went off the outfielder’s glove for a 3-0 Chillicothe lead.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Jared Lauhoff singled Fry to third and stole second. Dylan Clark then painted the left-field line with a double to drive in both runners and O’Dell had been presented a 5-0 lead to keep safe. He would.
The Blue Jays got their first two men aboard in the second on Tanner Hudson’s single to left-center field and an that let Clayton?Radcliff reach. However, a couple of pop flies and a strikeout ended the threat with neither runner budging.
Trenton relief pitcher Ty Stillwell took over from Richardson to begin the second and held Chillicothe relatively in check the rest of the way.
After a scoreless bottom of the second, O’Dell had a 1-2-3 third and the host Cardinals then expanded their lead to six.
Hussey singled to left to open the Chillicothe fourth. Fry’s 1-out single sent him to third and Clark’s 2-out hit to left scored him, giving the No. 8 hitter in the Cardinals’ lineup three runs batted in for the night.
Trenton wasted a leadoff double by Richardson in the fourth when the baserunner tried to advance to third after the throw to first base by Hussey on Hudson’s grounder. Chillicothe first baseman?Ryan?Smith, one of the team’s pitchers and hardest throwers, easily gunned the Blue Jays runner down with a peg to third baseman Brandon Murray, complete a twin-killing.
The baserunning mistake cost the guests at least one run as Radcliff ripped a basehit to left-center field which probably would have scored Richardson from second. Instead, however, it was simply a 2-out hit that put one runner aboard and, after one of three walks O’Dell gave up on the night, another of the Chillicothe hurler’s seven strikeouts stranded two men.
Another leadoff single by Chillicothe in the fourth turned into another add-on run.