STE. GENEVIEVE – Cade Scherffius pitched his way around potential trouble several times while dealing a shutout against Festus earlier in the Senior Legion baseball season.
Post 253 capitalized on a seemingly harmless two-out walk in the rematch on Tuesday night, and pushed through to the next round of the District 13 tournament.
Festus covered the full defensive spectrum – sprinkling in several stellar plays amid six errors – and took down Mineral Area Post 416 by an 8-3 outcome at Yanks Field.
Laine Axtetter made a diving catch in right field that likely saved at least two runs in the first inning. He later provided a clutch single as Post 253 regained the lead to stay.
Winning starter Dylan Schnitzler allowed three runs – all unearned – and struck out five over five innings. Daylen Whitener worked two scoreless frames for the save.
Cole Myers added two hits and Collin Reando scored two runs as top-seeded Festus (20-6) advanced to face Ste. Genevieve in the winner’s bracket final on Wednesday.
Braydon Scherffius finished 2-for-3 with a double to pace Mineral Area (5-7), which erased two separate deficits before yielding five unanswered tallies down the stretch.
Schnitzler found himself in immediate danger when an infield hit by Karter Kekec and two subsequent walks loaded the bases in the early moments.
With a Festus reliever quickly warming up, Schnitzler responded with two crucial strikeouts before a tagged line drive from Grant Mullins was snared by Axtetter along the grass.
Reando robbed Kekec of a second hit with a diving catch in center leading off the third inning. Third baseman Grant Beck charged consecutive slow rollers to secure impressive outs in the fourth.
Post 253 also endured its shaky instances along the infield, including three errors in the top of the fifth as Mineral Area pulled even with two runs.
Jobe Smith and Cade Scherffius crossed the dish to make it 3-3 when Braydon Scherffius hammered a drive toward the left-center gap that was bobbled multiple times.
Cade Scherffius retired his first two opposing batters in the home half, but missed on a full count after Levi Ebersoldt fouled away multiple deliveries.
A wild pitch and stolen base placed pinch-runner Nate Pruneau at third, and three straight RBI singles by Axtetter, Myers and Cole Wagner created a 6-3 separation.
Axtetter added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to finish 2-for-3 overall. He made Scherffius throw 11 pitches before striking out to conclude the first inning.
But Festus had already established a 1-0 lead. Mullins fielded a ground ball after Reando walked, but bounced his throw on the force play into left field for an error.
Zak Meador, playing among significantly older talent at age 13, battled for 10 pitches before Schnitzler fielded a tapper and threw high over his first baseman to square the contest in the fourth.
Cade Scherffius ended with six strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings, and did not surrender a hit until the bottom of the fourth as Axtetter and Myers notched back-to-back singles.
Hunter Bassin broke the 1-1 with a flare that landed safely in shallow left-center as four Mineral Area defenders converged to no avail.
Festus tacked on two insurance runs after Reando walked and Ott singled against Kendall Horton in the sixth. Kooper Kekec relieved with a bases-loaded strikeout, but not before committing two balks.
Mullins narrowly missed a home run on his leadoff double to right in the top of the sixth. Bassin took an RBI hit away from Kooper Kekec three batters later with a diving catch up the middle.