SAUGET — Monroe County's proud baseball tradition was on display Saturday at GCS Ballpark in Sauget and the Columbia Eagles flew home victorious after posting win over county rivals Gibault and Waterloo at the annual county tournament.
After edging Gibault 2-0 in a pitchers' duel in the semifinals, the Eagles handled Waterloo 7-2 in the championship game to claim its first county tourney title since 2010.
"It was nice to see our bats wake up a little bit," Columbia coach Keith Jany said after the Eagles improved to 15-3. "It was definitely a pitchers' duel and it was nice to see us come out strong in first inning right away and not wait until the third or the fourth."
Columbia set the tone in the title game with three runs in the first against Waterloo starter Jeremy Rettig.
Brendan DePoy followed up a single by Austin Floarke with an RBI double and a Waterloo throwing error gave Columbia another run.
Already leading 3-0, Columbia plated four more runs in the third on a two-run single by Cole Mallinckrodt, an RBI single by Kyle Gudeman and a Waterloo throwing error.
"For the first time all year, these guys are getting an opportunity to battle through some of the tough times," Waterloo coach Mark Vogel said after his team dropped to 11-5. "Things aren't going our way right now and that's when you find out what kind of player you are. Everybody can handle the good times, we're in a little bit of a rough spot right now.
"We just need to grit our teeth a little bit more and fight together."
The game carried much more than bragging rights since Columbia and Waterloo will be two of the top teams in the same Class 3A regional.
"We talked about that last night," Jany said. "Now that we're in a regional with them this was a good win for us because we want that seeding. It's a tough regional, so all the help you can get the better."
Columbia lefty Blake Meyer allowed six hits and two runs through six innings. An RBI double by Waterloo's Taylor Rumfield was the Bulldogs' only run until Nathan Goodsell singled and scored on a wild pitch in the seventh.
"Blake's thrown very well for us so far this year." Jany said. "He's gotten into some mechanical issue some times, so we're still not sure what to expect. But when he's on, he'll throw the ball very well like he did today."
The coaches and players enjoyed playing the tournament at the Grizzlies' Frontier League park in Sauget.
"We really do like it, it's a nice day for the guys," Jany said. "They like to see us on a field like this and it's nice to see the other teams play, because we don't always get to see Waterloo or Valmeyer, they're not on our schedule.
"When we you get to play in place like this it's obviously great."
DePoy's pushed his average to .526 and the Rhodes College recruit has 12 doubles, three homers and 22 RBIs.
"It means a lot to us to know that we won the Monroe County Tournament, obvious bragging rights in Monroe County," DePoy said. "Especially now that we've got them in the regional this year, so there's a good chance you'll see them there.
"I know there's some talking going on right before the game like always, but it's just good, clean fun. Rivalries are good."
Columbia 2, Gibault 0
A two-run double by Columbia catcher Brock Johns in the second inning provided the only runs for the Eagles in their 2-0 semifinal victory over the Gibault Hawks.
Evan Dake and Cole Mallinckrodt singled for Columbia and Johns chased them home with a one-out double to the gap in right-center.
Both starting pitchers were in command as Gibault junior lefty Zach Neff matched zeroes with Columbia's Josh Fleming.
Neff truck out eight and Fleming struck out 10.
"Both pitchers threw awesome," Jany said. "It was whoever was going to make the plays and whoever was going to get that one big hit -- and today it was us.
"Brock's a clutch hitter, he's a had some big hits for us last year and he's had some big hits this year."
Gibault 14, Valmeyer 5
Wes Degener had two triples and four RBIs and Matt Schreder had two RBIs as Gibault (14-5) knocked off Valmeyer in the third-place game.
Luke Brewer was 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI for Valmeyer (4-13) while Zach Williams was 2-for-3 with a triple.