This story has been updated.
Post 642 Sedalia AUX qualified for the American Legion AA State Tournament with a runner-up finish at the Zone Tournament in Independence.
Sedalia (27-16) twice defeated Post 379 Oak Grove, but followed each victory with a loss to the Blue Springs Elks, who have beaten Posy 642 five times this season.
Sedalia’s Junior Legion team challenges the host team, Post 218 Washington, 3 p.m. Thursday in the double-elimination bracket. Winner between Sedalia and Washington advances to play Scott County, winners of the Zone 4 Tournament, later that evening.
First pitch for the championship game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Ronsick Field with an if-necessary game slated for 1 p.m. Sunday.
Trint Grotzinger pitched six scoreless innings to help Sedalia open the Zone Tournament with an 8-0 victory over Oak Grove. He currently leads the team in innings pitched (49 1/3), strikeouts (56), wins (8) and owns an earned run average of 1.99.
Sedalia head coach Alex Lang said Grotzinger “leads by example,” and that a focused pregame routine has helped him develop into the staff ace.
“He’s never unprepared for a game,” Lang said. “He’s not a real yeller or screamer, but he gets on the mound and shows everyone how it’s supposed to be done.”
Chase McMullin doubled and tripled during a three-hit, three-RBI day at the plate during a must-win, 13-2 result against Oak Grove to help Sedalia work back into the winner’s bracket. Zach Simmons drove in three runs, Blaine Kreisel enjoyed a multi-hit game and Caleb Egbert, who leads the team with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .904, walked twice and scored from the leadoff spot.
Lang said Egbert overcame a slow start to the season to become a consistent producer at the top of the lineup.
“I think it was more getting in the cage and working,” Lang said. “I know he’s a cage rat. And that shows off in the games.”
Post 5 Jefferson City hosts the Blue Springs Elks on the other side of the fold and represent a potential semifinals matchup 3:30 p.m. Friday. However, Looking beyond Scott County and its 27-3 record is unwise.
Lang, in his second summer as the junior legion coach, said he looks forward to testing the late-season strides Sedalia completed against a quality field at the state tournament.
“We started out not knowing if we were going to make it out of our district, let alone zone,” Lang said. “We finally started winning games when it counted.
“These guys won’t be any slouches. So, we’ll see what we’re made of real quick.”
TRAVELERS EARN 6 ALL-STAR BIDS
The Sedalia Travelers landed six players on the American Legion AAA Missouri All-Star Team, hosted 6 p.m. Sunday at Hidden Valley Sports Complex in Blue Springs.
Duffin Makings, Adam Webb, Connor Tichenor and Brody Kindle will represent Post 642 in the All-Star Game. Will Knight and Kyler Simoncic were selected as pitchers, but will be replaced by Brandon Kindle and Baron Austin due to schedule conflicts.
Post 642 hosts its final home games 6 p.m. Thursday against Blue Springs FIKE. They are scheduled to play Saturday at Lee’s Summit before beginning postseason play with the Zone Tournament.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.