Both Cape Girardeau Ford & Sons Post 63 and the Charleston Fighting Squirrels entered Monday night's matchup at Capaha Field with a focus more about preparation than results.
While the coach of each team felt his squad got the work it needed, Post 63 got the bonus of earning a 13-3 run-rule win in seven innings.
"As I've said all year long, our main objective is to challenge ourselves and be prepared for the postseason," Charleston coach Michael Minner said. "Wins and losses really don't matter to me. We've challenged ourselves against good baseball teams."
Postseason play begins for both teams later this week. Post 63 will start American Legion District 14 play Friday as the No. 2 seed behind Dunklin County Post 303, while the Squirrels start play in the Senior Babe state tournament Thursday.
"What we wanted to do was kind of set our players up to get their at-bats and kind of see where our lineups are going to be this weekend, see what the best lineup for us is in certain situations," Post 63 coach Todd Pennington said. "We're trying to set our rotation up, too, so we got everybody a couple innings in tonight, and the guys that didn't get them tonight got them the other night. We kind of got everybody the feel back."
Post 63 starter Josh Meyer retired the Charleston side in order in the top of the first before his offense gave him a three-run lead in the bottom half.
Although Charleston starter Brandon Peters eventually struck out the side, Post 63 crushed three extra-base hits in the inning. Jaime Pickel followed a lead-off walk with an RBI triple and scored on a throwing error. Jimmy Obermark then homered and Logan Morris later tripled but was left stranded.
"I just wanted them to go up there and be aggressive and get their swings in," Pennington said. "That's what we're good at. When we're aggressive to the ball and we put the bat on the ball, we're going to hit the ball hard. We've got a bunch of quality hitters, quality kids, so they're going to go out there and do the job every night."
Charleston (18-17) scored three runs in the second inning tie the game. Bryan Freed had an RBI double, and Dalton Golightly added a run-scoring single before Danny McKinney chased home the third run with a double.
Post 63 (23-11) distanced itself with six runs on six hits in the bottom of the fourth inning, then added three more runs in the fifth and another in the seventh to enact the 10-run rule in what was scheduled to be a nine-inning game.
Post 63's Adam Pennington, the younger brother of coach Todd Pennington, finished the game with a walk-off single.
"I knew we needed that last run to win the game, so I had to swing all I had," Adam Pennington said. "It wasn't a good hit, but it was enough to get the win."
He also returned to the mound for the first time after missing several weeks of the season with an ankle injury and a pulled muscle in his back.
"He's just trying to come back, so we're trying to get his bat in the lineup," Todd Pennington said. "We need him out in the outfield to track some balls down, and we need his arm back on the mound a little bit, so we're happy."
After walking back-to-back batters to load the bases in the top of the fifth inning, Adam Pennington struck out clean-up hitter Jonathan Boone before getting McKinney to ground into a 1-2-3 double play.
"I know I got mad, but you just have to push through that, and I did I guess," Adam Pennington said. "I got frustrated because my curveball wasn't working as well as I planned. I just had to get myself out of it. I had to get that ground ball to get the double play."
"I think we've got as good a shot as anybody, but we didn't play real well tonight," Minner said. "For whatever reason, our pitching wasn't real sharp tonight. We nibbled on corners and didn't get some pitches and had to throw it down the middle. And when you've got to throw it down the middle to a good team like Cape, they're going to hit it, and they hit it hard."