Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Denny's Rallies to Grab Metro Collegians Baseball Title

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Denny's Rallies to Grab Metro Collegians Baseball Title

Article excerpt

Even Greg Stiegler had his doubts.

Stiegler, who manages Denny's of the Metro Collegians Instructional Baseball League, was gunning for his fourth consecutive league title. But the situation appeared bleak.

"This is probably the most talented team I've ever coached, but we're young and inexperienced," Stiegler said. "All season, (coach) Marcellus Duke and I talked about the potential of this ballclub. We played all right, but we never really put things together in the regular season."

Injuries and some internal conflicts slowed Denny's, which finished 15-10 and in second place in the Metro's Gold Division.

Denny's opened the playoffs with an 8-4 victory over Pezold Hauling but then dropped a 4-1 decision to Coca-Cola.

"That loss really seemed to turn things around for us," Stiegler said. "I had a long talk with the players and then they had a players-only meeting after that. From that point on, we just seemed to be playing with a lot more heart and determination.

"Win or lose, I knew we were going to battle the rest of the way."

Denny's eliminated Pezold (6-1), Pepsi-Cola (17-6) and Educational Employees Credit Union (8-2) to win the losers' bracket. Stiegler's club then knocked off winners' bracket champ Coke 9-3 and 13-5 for the Metro title.

A year ago, Denny's (then sponsored by Ralston Purina) rolled through the Metro playoffs and then ran into some trouble in the American Amateur Baseball Congress state tournament. At state, Stiegler's club came out of the losers' bracket to beat Coke twice for the championship. Ralston went on to finish as runner-up at the AABC Midwest Regional Tournaament in Chicago.

"And the team that beat us, Prairie Gravel of Chicago, went on to finish second in nationals, losing twice to the national champion Puerto Rico," Stiegler said.

The AABC has a slightly different format this year as Denny's (21-11) squared off against the Independence (Mo.) Athletics in a best-of-three series at Brentwood Park over the weekend. …

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