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Cape eliminates Dunklin County from Senior American Legion district tournament
Post 63 defeated the district's top-seeded team 4-2
It's been a rough several weeks for the Cape Girardeau Ford & Sons Post 63 Senior American Legion baseball team.
But Cape put all that behind it to move into the championship round of the District 14 tournament at Legion Field on Saturday night.
Third-seeded Cape knocked off top-seeded Dunklin County 4-2 in the losers bracket final of the four-team, double-elimination event behind a brilliant pitching performance from Andrew Williams.
"It felt nice. We needed this one," Cape's Trey Gardner said.
Post 63 received a forfeit from fourth-seeded Sikeston earlier in the day. Sikeston forfeited twice in the tournament because it had only 11 players available. District 14 rules require a team to have 12 players in its dugout at the start of a district tournament game.
Cape will play second-seeded, host Jackson at 4 p.m. today. Post 63 needs to beat Jackson twice in order to claim the crown. A second title contest, if needed, would follow at about 7 p.m. today.
"It feels really good to be playing for the championship," Williams said.
Post 63 (17-28) entered Saturday having lost 22 of its previous 25 games. But Williams said the players never pointed any fingers.
"We've been struggling, but we never gave up on each other," Williams said.
Cape was 0-4 against defending tournament champion Dunklin County (22-14) during the regular season but turned that around.
Williams, a 2011 Central High School graduate who pitched as a freshman at Lindenwood-Belleville this year, went all nine innings.
"I really wanted to finish it off," Williams said.
Williams scattered 10 hits and allowed one earned run. He struck out seven, walked two and hit a batter.
"We played a full nine innings. The defense was really good behind me," Williams said.
Defense has been a problem for Post 63 during its skid, and that showed up in Friday's 15-4 opening-round loss to Jackson when Cape committed six errors.
Cape made three errors Saturday, but two in the first inning were overthrows that allowed runners to move up a base. Post 63 committed just one error that allowed a batter to reach.
"I thought we played good defense and Andrew did a great job. His breaking ball was really working," said Cape coach Steve Williams, who is Andrew's father.
Dunklin County took a quick lead with an unearned run in the top of the first inning.
Cape tied it in the second inning as Williams singled with one out, stole second and came in on a double by Travis Smith.
Post 63 went ahead for good in the third inning. Alex Davie led off with a double and scored on a single by Gardner.
Gardner doubled to lead off the fifth inning and later scored on a passed ball as Cape built a 3-1 lead.
Cape, nursing a 3-2 advantage, added an insurance run in the seventh inning. Davie led off with a walk and eventually came around on Ryan Siebert's suicide squeeze bunt that went for a single.
"That was a big run," Steve Williams said.
Andrew Williams ran into trouble in the ninth inning. A one-out single and a two-out double put runners on second and third, but a ground ball ended the game.
"It's nice to win," Steve Williams said. "We've struggled, but the kids have hung in there."
Gardner went 3 for 3 with two doubles to lead Cape's eight-hit attack. Williams added two hits.
Cape will set its sights on knocking off rival Jackson twice today. No matter what happens both teams are assured berths in the Zone 4 tournament that Post 63 will host beginning Thursday.
"We want it bad," Gardner said of the district tournament title.