Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Thunderstorm Gives St. Paul Winning Edge Vfw/portage Holds off St. Peters

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Thunderstorm Gives St. Paul Winning Edge Vfw/portage Holds off St. Peters

Article excerpt

A.J. Koenig can't remember a more welcome thunderstorm.

"If it hadn't rained Sunday, I don't know if we would've won the ballgame," said Koenig, player/manager of the East Missouri Baseball Association's St. Paul team. Starting pitcher "Brian Burbes was really getting tired and we didn't have a lot of available pitching. Dan Johnson had a sore shoulder and Rick Probst had a jammed finger.

"We had the lead, but we might've had trouble holding it if it didn't rain."

The 30-minute rain delay in the sixth inning proved to be just the break St. Paul needed. Burbes caught his second wind and finished the game, leading St. Paul past visiting Wentzville 11-7 Sunday in the West League losers' bracket championship game.

In the East League losers' bracket title contest, VFW Post 4219/Portage beat St. Peters 15-9.

In next Sunday's games, St. Paul (11-9) plays at Old Monroe (17-3) while VFW Post 2866 (21-1) welcomes VFW/Portage (12-11) to C-H Park. Both games are slated for 1:30 p.m.

To win their respective league titles, St. Paul and VFW/Portage also will have to beat their opponents on Sept. 11. After a champion has been crowned in each league, the two league champs will square off in the best-of-three Little World Series.

Last year, VFW swept Old Monroe for the title.

"All we can do is try to take it a game at a time," Koenig said. "At this point, we're just happy to have the opportunity."

St. Paul advanced, thanks to a big sixth inning and the much-needed rain delay Sunday.

Down 6-4 going into the sixth, St. Paul beat the rain with back-to-back doubles by Terry Schulte and Dan Orf, a sacrifice bunt and two-run homers by Brad Fischer and Ken Muegge. After the rain, Schulte came through with a run-scoring single to cap the six-run inning.

"As the sky grew darker, we seemed to come to life," said Koenig, who capped his team's scoring with a solo homer in the eighth. "Going in, I knew Wentzville'd be tough - any team that has knocked off Old Monroe and Elsberry in the last three weeks is doing something right - and they were more ready to play than we were.

"But we hung in there and came up with some big hits when we needed them."

Wentzville (9-12) went up 2-0 in the first on run-scoring hits from Tim Pyke and Gerard Washington, but St. Paul answered with a three-run homer by Muegge in the bottom of the inning.

Wentzville added a pair of runs in both the third and fourth innings to go up 6-3. David Haake and Les Martin had RBIs in the third while Pyke and Steve Faron drove in fourth-inning runs.

"The story of the game on both sides was missed opportunities," said Koenig, whose team scored in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out double by Jeff Schipper to make it 6-4. "With another hit or two, Wentzville really could've pulled away from us. And we blew some chances, too."

Muegge paced the St. …

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