During the hottest moments of the season, the Travelers have stayed cool, calm and collected.
Post 642 Sedalia erased a three-run deficit and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning of a 5-4 victory over Post 150 Ste. Genevieve during the American Legion AAA Missouri State Tournament Thursday at Liberty Park Stadium.
Travelers right fielder Brandon Kindle ended the game with a sliding catch, his leather glove narrowly beating a Tyler Blum fly ball to the outfield grass.
“If you drop the ball, you lose,” Kindle said of his game-ending read. “Ball don’t lie.”
Kindle led off the sixth with a triple and represented the game-tying run on Braiden McEachern’s two-out single. In the seventh, Connor Tichenor followed a pair of small-ball successes with the eventual game-winner. His knock scored Duffin Makings, who reached via single and advanced on a pair of sacrificed outs.
“It seems like everybody, at different times, helps us win,” said Sedalia Travelers starting pitcher Kyler Simoncic.
Simoncic loaded the bases in the first inning, surrendering two runs on a passed ball and 6-4-3 double play. He said his adrenaline settled after the opening frame, and described his six-inning, four-run outing as a grind.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Simoncic said. “They’re going to get hits. But that doesn’t mean you should get down or get wild. You’ve got to try to continue to hit corners and mix it up.”
Makings recorded the save with a one-hit seventh. He helped end the fourth inning with a relay that beat Ste. Gen’s Logan Gregg, attempting to extend a 4-3 lead, to the plate. Gegg finished 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles, including a second-inning RBI that put Post 150 ahead 3-0.
In the third, Makings drove in Levi Betts with a single, and a misplay in right allowed Adam Webb — who earlier recorded an RBI single — to score from first base. Post 150 starting pitcher Kellen Blum retired three straight to preserve a three-run tie. An errant afforded extra bases for Keaton Boyer and allowed Tyler Blum to score, giving Ste. Gen a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the frame.
Travelers head coach Tanner McKee said he was pleased to see his team avoid potentially devastating crooked frames.
“Minimize the innings,” McKee said. “When you get to these games, you’re going to have highs and lows. The whole game ain’t going to be perfect for you.”
Sedalia plays Post 253 Festus, which defeated between Post 218 Washington 2-1 in the late game Friday, 1 p.m. Friday.
With Missouri sending two teams to the regional, advancing to championship Saturday guarantees an Aug. 7-11 trip to Duncan Field, the Travelers (28-16) are one win away from a trip to the 2019 Mid-South American Legion Baseball Regional Tournament in Hastings, Nebraska.
McKee said he expects the hosting Travelers, who have competed in three of the last four state tournaments, to continue playing with confidence and composure.
“We’ve had a reputation, now, of being in big games,” McKee said. “The game means something to them.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.