The Hannibal Legion AA baseball team beat Eureka 14-4 on Tuesday night and has now scored 39 runs over its past three games.
Treyson Culwell entered in relief for the Hannibal Legion Post 55 AA baseball team Tuesday wanting nothing more than to keep his team ahead during a 14-4 win over Eureka at Mark Twain High School.
Culwell did just that — with some help.
Hannibal led 5-2 in the fifth inning when the Van-Far standout took the mound with runners on second and third and one out. After allowing a walk and a sneaky bunt single for one run, Culwell and the stingy Post 55 defense behind him clamped down.
“What you've got to do is throw strikes and trust your defense,” said Culwell, who pitched the final 3 2/3 innings of the victory. “If you don't trust your defense, you can't do it. My defense was huge and greatly appreciated.”
First baseman John Trenhaile snared a line drive and then threw across the diamond to third baseman Casey Williams to pick off the lead runner, ending the fifth-inning scoring threat.
One inning later, center fielder Wyatt Waelder took his turn as the defensive hero. There were two runners on and just one out when Waelder caught a fly ball and fired a bullet to catcher Adam Baxter to throw out the lead runner at the plate.
“Those were very needed double plays,” Hannibal manager Deanie Waelder said. “We were in jams both times. They were going to bust a big inning out, really, and they both got us out of big innings.”
Hannibal's offense tacked on nine insurance runs over the next three innings to close out an eight-inning victory.
Braden Schlueter, who pitched the first 4 1/3 innings for Hannibal, earned the win. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out six batters on 75 pitches.
“It felt great,” Schlueter said of the win. “We were able to put the offense together, and that's always nice because we struggled with that early in the season. I wasn't pitching my best, but I had a good defense behind me, so that helped a lot.”
Hannibal scored three runs in the sixth inning to take command. Schlueter singled home Alec Mundle to make it 6-3. Colton Andrews scored on an error, and Williams grounded out to plate Schlueter.
After Eureka countered with a tally in the top of the seventh, Hannibal struck for four more in the bottom half. Culwell stroked a two-RBI double to left field before Hayden Hoerr scored on a groundout and Andrews came home for his third run on an error to make it 12-4.
“He threw me a good pitch and I just put some good wood on it and sent it out there,” Culwell said of his double.
Baxter walked for the third time of the night in the eighth inning to bring home Trenhaile, and Gabe Worthington shot a single to left field to score Bradley McCollum to enforce the mercy rule.
“We had timely hitting up and down the lineup,” Waelder said. “People were getting on base from the bottom of the lineup, which brings the top around, and they're hitting 'em in.”
Early on, Hannibal jumped out the gate with two runs in the first inning to take the lead. Waelder grounded out to score Williams for the first run of the night, and Trenhaile double to left field to plate Williams and make it 2-0.
Post 55 displayed patience at the plate when it grew its lead to 5-0 in the second inning, drawing a pair of bases-loaded walks (Schlueter and Waelder) and one run-scoring hit by pitch (Williams).
“We had the pressure on them from the get-go. It was patience at the plate,” coach Waelder said. “The kids were hitting the ball and putting the ball in play.”
Eureka scored twice in the fourth inning and once in the fifth to pull within two runs before Hannibal put the visitors away for good.
Post 55 (7-5) has won five games in a row and has scored 39 runs over its past three games.
“In the beginning of the season, we weren't really together,” Schlueter explained. “We were all off. Now that we're coming together as a team more, it's nice because we're starting to win a lot more. If you look at our past couple games, we've put up crazy numbers. It really shows.”
Culwell believes his team, which features players from high schools including Hannibal, Palmyra, Mark Twain, Community and Van-Far, is hot at the right time as the district tournament begins next week.
Hannibal faces St. Peters on the road Wednesday before hosting St. Clair on Friday night at Clemens Field.
“We started out rough but now we've been winning a lot of ballgames,” he said. “By this time, we've got to know each other really well. We've all become great friends and we're playing good baseball together now.”