Pittsburg Post 64 came out of the first day of the Pittsburg Legion/Fort Scott CC Classic at JayCee Ballpark with an undefeated record, 1-0-1, after games against the Mount Vernon 39ers and the Kansas Crush Elite.
Post 64 held on tightly for a 6-5 win in the opener Friday morning and missed opportunities cost Post 64 a sweep against the Crush Elite, a game which ended in a 3-all stalemate after both teams gobbled up the given 2-hour time limit.
"We won a game and tied a game, which is unusual," Post 64 head coach Mike Watt said. "That's something we don't normally do. I thought the first game, we jumped out big, got a lead and we just sat back and didn't finish the game. We let them creep back in and the second game was just a lot of missed opportunities. We had runners at second and third (Cody Grilz and Blake Vail in the bottom of the fourth) with no outs and couldn't even put a ball in play. We had three strikeouts in a row and in that situation, we've just got to compete better."
The game between Post 64 and Crush Elite featured the Class 3A Player of the Year in Cole Brecheisen of Rossville and the 3A Pitcher of the Year in Christian Cedeno of St. Mary's Colgan, as well as players from state winners Colgan (3A), Topeka Hayden (4A) and Topeka Seaman (5A).
Brecheisen might become a familiar player to area baseball fans since the lefty will be plying his trade at Pittsburg State beginning next season.
Brecheisen and Cedeno faced off three times with Brecheisen taking a 2-1 decision: 5-3 groundout in the first, two-run home run in the third and a walk in the fifth. Brecheisen homered down the right field line and showed he needs to work a little bit on his home run trot as he slipped going around first base. He shook it off and made his way around for a 2-0 lead.
Post 64 tied it up in the third as Brett Macary delivered a two-run double with two outs, scoring comfortably Bryce Burdette from third and Cedeno hustled in on one of only three Post 64 hits against Crush Elite pitchers Ben Ramberg (Topeka West) and Taylor Mah (Topeka Seaman).
However, Post 64 left behind eight runners accumulated through the assistance of three Crush Elite errors and eight walks. Crush Elite threw out two Post 64 runners at home, courtesy runner Bryan Wade in the second and Cedeno in the fifth as Mah's throwing error into right field scored Nate George for the 3-all final score. Cedeno was sent home and two spot-on throws placed Cedeno in a pickle where he'd have to make a perfect slide to score the game-winning run.
Page 2 of 3 - The Post 64 coaches talked with the players about effort, especially after nearly squandering an early lead in the opener and whiffing on a sweep in the second.
"When you play good teams and we're playing good teams, every pitch, every play, every at-bat, they all count," Watt said. "You don't know which one's going to win the game for you. . . . It's just that. Every single play makes a difference when you play a good team. You've got to compete and you can't take a play or a pitch off."
Three pitchers combined to allow eight hits against the 39ers: V.J. Piccini continued his roll on the mound which started back in April with six strong, allowing two runs on five hits. Blake Vail struggled a little bit in relief but Luke Marquardt came in for his second save by earning the last out during a bases loaded jam.
Cedeno allowed three runs on five hits in the second game.
"In the first game, V.J. was as sharp as usual," Watt said. "He pitched very well and Blake came in, I think he had an error (dropped ball on a potential 5-3 groundout) and it kind of got in his head a little bit. He's got to work on that. I thought Christian did a very good job of battling. He gave us an opportunity to win. We just didn't get it done for him.
"Luke came in in a very tough spot. They had one of their best hitters up, their leadoff hitter up. They're a basehit away from tying it or taking the lead and he gets a big groundball (4-3 groundout) for us. He does seem to be comfortable in that spot. I think he likes it."
Post 64 started the first game with some of its best offensive baseball of the young summer campaign, plating four runs in the first and two in the second.
Nate Grimaldi and Colton Gilbert, sparkplugs for Colgan during its state title run, reached on walks to begin the first. Grimaldi scored on a wild pitch. Gilbert scored on a Cedeno infield single. Watt told Grimaldi "Way to get us started."
"It's speed," Watt said. "When you get your speed on base, that does nothing but pressure on people and it doesn't take a ball to the wall to score them. They can score on just a routine single because of their speed. It gives them a big advantage."
Post 64 totaled six stolen bases in the first two innings, two apiece from Grimaldi and Gilbert, plus steals from Cedeno and Bryan Wade.
Macary hit a 6-3 RBI groundout and a solo home run in the first. Vail's high school teammate of the last two seasons Bryce Burdette chased down the ball for Vail as it went over the left field wall and into the ditch across the street in Lincoln Park. Burdette left the mud on the ball for his friend.
Page 3 of 3 - Wade connected on a double in the second.
Post 64 went hitless after the second.
Back to Crush Elite. Word has it that New York Yankees draft pick (25th round), Kansas State recruit and Shawnee Heights graduate Jordan Floyd (6-foot-3, 245-pound left-handed pitcher) will be in Pittsburg on Saturday for the Pittsburg Legion/Fort Scott CC Classic.
Who says there's no ties in baseball? Other than Bud Selig, of course. Nobody pulled a "Bad News Bears in Breaking Training" on Friday and led the JayCee Ballpark crowd through a stirring rendition of "Let them play!"
Post 64 (5-3-1) resumes play 8:15 Saturday night against the Andover Trojans, closing out the second day of play in the showcase event.
Pittsburg Legion/Fort Scott CC Classic
at JayCee Ballpark
Pittsburg Post 64 6, Mount Vernon 39ers 5
39ers 100 010 3 — 5 8 0
P64 420 000 X — 6 4 2
Grant McMillan, 23 and Cody Lee. V.J. Piccini, Blake Vail (7), Luke Marquardt (7) and Bryan Wade. WP: Piccini. LP: McMillan. SV: Marquardt. E: Matt Standlee, Cody Grilz. HR: 32; Vail. 2B: Bobby Johnson; Wade. SB: Nate Grimaldi 2, Colton Gilbert 2, Christian Cedeno, Wade. CS: Johnson, 23; Marquardt. HBP: McMillan. LOB: 39ers 5, P64 2.
Pittsburg Post 64 3, Kansas Crush Elite 3
CRUSH 002 100 — 3 5 3
PITT 002 010 — 3 3 1
Ben Ramberg, Taylor Mah (6) and Phillip Rineberg. Christian Cedeno and Ryan Cedeno. WP: none. LP: none. E: Mah 2, T.J. Giller; Cody Grilz. HR: Cole Brecheisen. 2B: Brett Macary. SH: Brett Fehr; Nate Grimaldi. SB: Brecheisen; Grimaldi. LOB: CRUSH 6, PITT 8.