Zone 4 American Legion baseball: Creve Coeur beats Ballwin, sits one win away from zone crown

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It has been nothing but smooth sailing for the Creve Coeur Post 397 Senior American Legion baseball team during the Zone 4 tournament.

As a result, Creve Coeur finds itself just one win away from the zone championship and a state tournament berth.

Post 397 notched its second lopsided zone victory, a 15-5 win over Ballwin Post 611 in Saturday's winners bracket final in the five-team, double-elimination event at Capaha Field.

Creve Coeur (33-12), the only squad without a tournament loss, will play in today's 2 p.m. championship round against either Ballwin or three-time defending state champion Festus. An if-necessary title contest would follow.

Ballwin and Festus squared off in Saturday night's losers bracket final that still was under way at press time.

"So far, so good," said Creve Coeur coach P.J. Arway, whose squad beat Jackson 6-0 in Friday's opening round. "We've been working on just staying focused and taking it inning by inning."

Ballwin (18-17) grabbed an early 2-0 lead over its District 10 rival from suburban St. Louis.

But Creve Coeur, the District 10 regular-season and tournament champion, scored 11 unanswered runs to beat Ballwin for the fourth time in six meetings this year.

"It's a familiarity factor," Arway said. "We've played them 11 times the past two seasons. They know us as well as we know them. We know they never quit."

Post 611, which qualified for the zone as the District 10 tournament runner-up, scored twice in the bottom of the second inning. The rest of the game pretty much belonged to Post 397.

Creve Coeur took the lead for good with three runs in the top of the third inning. A six-run fifth inning broke open things at 9-2.

It was 14-3 entering the bottom of the seventh as Post 397 closed in on a mercy rule win, but two Ballwin runs kept Post 611 alive. The contest wound up going all nine innings.

"We've been doing good," Creve Coeur's Ed Bargmann said. "A lot of good hits at the right time."

Post 397 banged out 14 hits and received 10 walks while taking advantage of five errors that accounted for eight unearned runs.

Bargmann and Jordan Goldenberg led Creve Coeur with three hits apiece. They both doubled and drove in three runs. Andrew Childs added three RBIs.

Ballwin nearly matched Creve Coeur by getting 13 hits, but Post 397 committed just one error and handed out only five walks.

Lucas Mueller pitched 6 2/3 innings for the win. He allowed 13 hits and five runs. He struck out three and walked four.

Ryan Hillhouse finished with 2 1/3 hitless innings. He issued one walk.

While Creve Coeur is in a strong position to win the tournament, Arway knows nothing is assured.

"We have a lot of respect for the teams still left," he said. "But the driver's seat is always a good place to be."

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