Festus continues to thrive at Capaha with win against Cape Girardeau Post 63

Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Cape Girardeau Post 63’s Kyle Thompson heads to the dugout after striking out against Festus Post 253 during the fourth inning Monday at Capaha Park. (Laura Simon)

The three-time defending state champions defeated Cape Girardeau Post 63 6-1 on Monday

The Festus Post 253 Senior American Legion baseball team has found Capaha Field to be an enjoyable home away from home the past two years.

That trend continued Monday night when Festus knocked off host Cape Girardeau Ford & Sons Post 63 6-1 in a seven-inning game.

"This place has been very good to us," Festus coach Zac Bone said with a smile. "I hope we're back here in a few weeks."

Festus became the first American Legion baseball team since World War II to win three consecutive Missouri state titles last year.

The 2010 and 2011 state championships for Post 253 came immediately after it captured Zone 4 tournament titles in Cape Girardeau. Post 63 will host the Zone 4 event for the third consecutive year next month.

"We've been having a lot of success the last couple of years," said Festus standout Alex Winkelman, a recent Crystal City High School graduate who has signed to pitch for Southeast Missouri State. "But we're not looking at the end of the road. We're taking it one game at a time."

Winkelman, a left-hander who played center field and did not pitch Monday, added that he's excited about playing many more games at Capaha as a member of the Redhawks.

"It's a good field. I'm looking forward to playing here," Winkelman said.

Festus (11-3) appears well equipped to make a run at a fourth consecutive state championship after returning a host of players from last year's squad.

Post 253 doesn't appear to have missed a beat under Bone, who took over the program after his father and longtime Festus coach Pat Bone stepped down following last season.

"They're very good," Post 63 coach Steve Williams said.

Cape (12-10), which suffered its fourth consecutive loss, trailed just 2-1 before Festus scored four runs in the seventh inning.

"Everybody we're playing lately is pretty good," said Williams, whose squad dropped three games over the weekend in Arkansas. "We're about trying to get better for districts and zone."

Monday's contest was a wood-bat affair, which both Bone and Williams acknowledged favored the visitors.

Festus competes in District 13, which only uses wood bats. Bone said all of Post 253's games so far have been with wood. Cape was playing its first wood-bat contest.

"Our kids are comfortable with wood," Bone said.

Post 253 had four doubles and a triple among its seven hits. Jeremy Brown led the way with two doubles.

"We have some kids who can hit," Bone said.

Cape managed just two hits, both in the sixth inning when Post 63 scored its only run. The host side was fortunate to have any hits.

Jordan Prince had a no-hitter through five innings. Ryan Siebert led off the sixth inning with an infield single when nobody covered first base in time on a ball to the right side.

Jesse Schott followed with a fly ball that left fielder Zach Faulkner could have caught easily but he never saw it. The ball fell for an RBI double as Cape cut its deficit to 2-1.

Prince was relieved after issuing his sixth walk but first since the third inning. The free pass to Travis Smith put runners on first and second with nobody out.

"Jordan didn't have his best stuff, but I thought he competed hard," Bone said about Prince, who struck out five. "He wasn't happy with his walks early."

Nick Pruneau came on and shut down Cape the rest of the way. He struck out four and allowed just a hit batter over the final two innings.

"Nick was outstanding. He's got a very live arm," Bone said.

Smith continued his solid pitching for Post 63 but took the loss after working all seven innings.

Smith allowed six runs, five earned, and seven hits. He struck out four, walked four and hit a pair.

"He pitched real good," Williams said. "We didn't make enough plays tonight."

Festus broke open a scoreless game with two runs in the fourth inning on three hits. Brown had an RBI double and Blake Womacks added an RBI single.

Post 253 broke things open in the seventh with three hits and an error. Caleb Wilkerson had the big blow, a two-RBI triple.

Cape returns to action Wednesday, hosting District 14 rival Jackson in a 6 p.m. doubleheader. Post 63 is 2-0 in district play, including a 4-3 win at Jackson on June 6.

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