The Travelers are a team of unorthodoxies.
They arrived Friday afternoon with freshly-trimmed mustaches. They rarely perform a traditional in-and-out during pregame warmups. And, even at their home Liberty Park Stadium, they forgo coin tosses in preference of the visiting side of the scorecard.
“We’re odd,” said Post 642 Sedalia head coach Tanner McKee. “But we’re rolling.”
Duffin Makings tossed a 92-pitch, two-hit shutout during a 3-0 victory to help the Sedalia Travelers advance to the championship game of the American Legion AAA Missouri State Tournament and secure a bid to the Mid-South Regional Tournament in Hastings, Nebraska.
Post 642 Sedalia (29-16) has won seven straight games and are undefeated through legion postseason play. Winning helps justify their idiosyncrasies, McKee said.
“You’ve got to buy into them,” McKee said. “If they’re loving it, then we’re rolling with it.”
Sedalia’s southpaw starting pitcher and leadoff hitter started the game with what would be their only hard-struck hit. The Travelers bunted for two more hits, and Braiden McEachern deposited a bloop single in shallow left to represent their last hit and RBI, respectively.
Makings said he identified a pattern in the on-deck circle and capitalized.
“Before the at-bat, I saw he was throwing a lot of fastballs in warmups,” Makings said. “I was just looking first-pitch fastball, got it, hit it.”
With the bases loaded in the fourth, Makings accepted a free pass to board the first run of the game. In the fifth, Brody Kindle led off with a walk. Connor Tichenor and Brandon Kindle reached on back-to-back errors, the former induced on a bunt to third and the latter scored Brody Kindle. McEachern followed with a fly-ball, RBI single.
The Travelers play for their first state title since 2016 against Festus, 1 p.m. Saturday.
No matter the opponent, they will likely be the visiting team.
“Baseball players are just really superstitious,” Makings said. “They just don’t want to change anything up if it’s working.”
McKee said despite the Travelers’ insistence to be visitors, they are still winning a simple game.
“You still have to score more runs than the other team,” McKee said. “Either way, you still have to get three outs in the seventh.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.