The only time Sedalia starting pitcher Gable Dull, listed as 5-foot-9 on Crowder College’s website, felt like small on the mound against the sluggers on the Post 218 Washington American Legion club, was moments after the game ended.
Pitching Saturday, July 30, at Liberty Park, Dull eliminated one last batter – a grounder to second – to punctuate a 5-2 Sedalia victory and complete-game performance. He hit the ground, curled up and prepared for a dogpile. The Post 642 Sedalia Travelers were Class AAA Missouri State Champions for the first time.
Dull’s nine-inning, four-strikeout effort follows a similar complete-game outing from Gehrig Taylor in game one, who stands a hair shorter than Saturday’s winner. Sedalia won Friday over Washington by an identical score.
The Travelers were hardly underdogs, however. They never trailed in the state tournament, sweeping the “Final Four” event in three games.
Even against Washington, which featured a lineup with firepower – Mitch Barrow and Kyle Tuepker were hitting about .400 with on an offense used to scoring about 10 runs a game – Dull pitched with spunk.
“I don’t look at those guys any different,” Dull said. “Same mentality every hitter, I don’t care if they’re jacked, if I’m throwing to Albert Pujols, I don’t give a crap. Same approach, I don’t think anything about it.”
Washington threatened late. After scoring two runs in the eighth, Dull allowed a pair of baserunners —the ninth and 10th Post 218 hits of the day. A shallow pop up to left and ground ball ended the threat, and Post 642 Senior Legion (34-18) state championship drought.
The ever-steady Post 642 opened Saturday’s game with a two-run inning. Baxter Mays reached on a dropped third strike and scored on a Gavin Jones single. Dom Zerilli drove in Jones with a single up the middle.
Mays, who was 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs, scored again in the second frame, reaching on a double and scoring on a Steven Bradbury single.
Jake Kindle made it 5-0, Sedalia with a two-out single in the sixth.
Washington starter Adam Gauzy pitched six innings, surrendering five runs on 10 hits. Gus Kleekamp entered in the seventh.
Head coach Jeff Mays said it was a big day for Sedalia baseball.
“It’s a great honor to be here,” Mays said. “They deserve it, they’re a great bunch of guys, and it took our whole team. This is special.”
Bill Dey, who reestablished the Senior Legion baseball program in 1980 after a near 30-year hiatus, and coached the Travelers for 25 years, said he was proud of the club.
“They did a whale of a job,” Dey said. “They beat a good team in Washington, and they beat them twice … It’s been a long time coming. It’s the first time it’s happened here in Sedalia, and we’ve had some good legion teams here. I’m very proud and happy for those youngsters.”
Bill Dey, was coach in 2002 when the Travelers entered its first state tournament in about 50 years.
Post 642 would not return until 2009, when then-sophomore at Smith-Cotton Jordan Dey, played for the team.
As a member of the Sedalia Bombers, a MINK League collegiate baseball club that shares Liberty Park with the Travelers, Jordan said he watched about 10 Senior Legion games throughout the summer and was glad to see his former team win state.
“I was really proud to see those guys, especially the ones who grew up, while I was playing with their brothers, and seeing them grow up and win it, it was cool,” Jordan said. “It’s just awesome to see that, especially in this town, we need something like that, a baseball team to go on and represent in a powerful way.”
The Travelers advance to the Mid-South regional against the Louisiana American Legion champions, the Pedal Valves Cardinals. First pitch Wednesday in Conway, Arkansas is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2