As the pitcher for Ballwin (Mo.) Post 611, Ben Mitchell lost control early. He walked three batters and hit one in the first inning on top of giving up two runs to Paducah Post 31 in the second frame of their Friday matchup in the Polk Brooks American Legion Baseball Tournament at Brooks Stadium.
Mitchell would get better from the mound, but he made his biggest impact from the plate. His three-run homer in the fifth gave Post 611 what it needed for the 3-2 win. It improved Ballwin's tournament record to 2-0 and dropped Post 31 to 0-2.
Paducah pitcher Alex McMahon had done a stellar job keeping Post 611 off the board. He had one strikeout in each of the first three innings and got out of a two-on, one-out jam with a double play. His luck seemed to hold in the fifth when he struck out the first batter and got the second to ground out.
Zac Ruckman, Ballwin's leadoff hitter, then drilled a 1-1 pitch into right field for a single. Drew Ellis hit a bouncer to Nick Shumaker at short but no play could be made. There were runners at the corners when Mitchell got to the plate. He smacked the first pitch he saw over the left field fence to turn a 2-0 Paducah lead into the final score.
Paducah, the visiting team on the scoreboard, had its chances at a comeback late. Clay Newton, who doubled in the second for Post 31, smashed a triple deep to right in the sixth. Mitchell stayed calm and struck out Clay Chandler on three pitches and got Shumaker to ground out.
Post 31 got another baserunner when Travis Crouch walked in the seventh with one out. Jeremiah White grounded out on a full count and pinch-hitter Drew Lastinger popped out to Ballwin catcher E.J. Myers. With two losses to two teams with two wins apiece, Paducah is most likely eliminated from Sunday's championship round.
Newton and McMahon both had two hits for Post 31 while Brett Quigley drove in both of Paducah's runs on a bases-loaded single to center in the second.
In Thursday's late results, Ballwin downed Terre Haute (Ind.) 4-3 at Brooks. On St. Mary's field, Donaldson (Fla.) defeated Mayfield 7-3 while Shelbyville routed Charleston (Mo.) 11-1. In Friday's early action at Brooks, Cape Girardeau (Mo.) stopped Little Rock (Ark.) 9-4 but fell to Terre Haute 14-5. Columbia (Tenn.) defeated Donaldson at St. Mary 8-4.
Paducah Post 31 020 000 0 2 6 2
Ballwin Post 611 000 030 x 3 7 0
McMahon, Shumaker (6) and Armstrong; Mitchell and Myers.
WP: Mitchell. LP: McMahon
2B: P-Newton. 3B: P-Newton. HR: B-Mitchell (2 on in 5th). Top hitters: P-McMahon 2-3, Newton 2-3; B-Mitchell 2-4 (3 RBI), Ruckman 2-3.