Waterloo has little difficulty claiming its 12th Valmeyer Classic title

News-DemocratJuly 7, 2013 

— For the Waterloo Millers, the theme of the 2013 Valmeyer Mid-Summer Classic was simply "commitment."

Committed to play and committed to win, the Millers got an outstanding pitching effort from the ageless Corey Blackwell and went on for a 7-1 win over the St. Louis Printers in the title game Sunday at Borsch Memorial Park.

Voted as the tournament's most valuable player, Justin Dunning gave the Millers a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning and Waterloo tacked on four more runs in the second, grabbing a quick 5-1 lead.

With Blackwell silencing the Printers' bats on just seven hits through 7 1/3 innings, Waterloo was never seriously threatened as it went on to earn its 12th Valmeyer Mid-Summer Classic title and its first since 2010.

Brandon Musso pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for Waterloo, which at times during the regular season has struggled at the plate.

But at least this weekend, the Millers showed that with all their big bats on hand, they're still tough to beat.

"It means a lot to win this again," Millers manager Vern Moehrs said. "This isn't the 1950s anymore, like when I started and it's not like the '60s, '70s or '80s either. Times have changed and with all the different commitments that people have these days, it's difficult to get a group to commit to play like these guys did this weekend.

"They were not only committed to play. They were committed to winning this tournament. That's what makes this special.''

Dunning, who hit a pair of home runs and ended the three-game tournament with seven hits, echoed Moehrs thoughts.

"It means a lot to us. Why? Vernie (Moehrs) for one reason. He's been a round for a long time. We know what this means to him," Dunning said. "We've been a little inconsistent with the bats. But this weekend, we had everybody here and we played like we can.''

The Printers, who opened the tournament by defeating defending champion and pre-tournament favorite Millstadt, tied the game 1-1 in the top of the second.

But it could have been worse, much worse for the Millers.

The Printers had runners on first and second with nobody out following singles by Jaime Graeser and Josh Donnell.

Matt Zeller then lined a one-hopper that Millers third baseman Ryan Hall fielded and from his knees threw to second base to start a double play.

St. Louis would soon tie the game, but Hall's play was a crucial for the Millers.

"That was the play of the game as far as I am concerned. To field the ball was one thing. To turn it into a double play was just huge for us," Moehrs said "With one error all weekend, our defense was outstanding."

Hall then led off the bottom of the second with a single, as the Millers sent nine batters to the plate and scored four runs.

Bryce Bastein, L.J. Watson and Nick Dunning had run-scoring hits, as the Millers took a commanding 5-1 lead.

Hall made it 6-1 in the third inning with a solo homer.

With Blackwell on the mound, the five-run lead was more than enough. After surviving a shaky start, the Millers ace was untouchable for the next five innings.

"Corey was Corey," Moehrs said. "For a guy 37-, 38-years-old to come out here and pitch is one thing. But for him to want to come out here and compete and still have the drive and commitment to come out here pitch like he did, was just outstanding.

"He's been like that for a long time.''

In the other games Sunday, the St. Louis Spikes won the consolation title, beating Millstadt 13-8. Fairview Heights blanked Cape Girardeau 10-0 in the third-place game.

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