The names may change through the years, but for the Waterloo Millers the formula for success — good pitching, solid defense and a lot of the power — remains the same
Using that formula to perfection, hard-throwing Jeremy Rettig scattered eight hits in 7 2/3 innings while veterans Craig Ohlau and Jason Harrison hit home runs as Waterloo pulled away from Valmeyer for an 8-1 win Saturday in a semifinal at the Valmeyer Mid-Summer Baseball Classic.
Long one of the top hitters in the Mon-Clair League, Ohlau hit a two-run home run off Valmeyer starter Andrew Flett in the fifth inning as Waterloo took a 4-0 lead.
Later when Harrison, a Fairview Heights dentist, hit a three-run home run as part of a four-run eighth, the Millers were once again in the title game.
“Ohlau’s home run was big, because we went from having a one-run lead against a very good Valmeyer team, to having a four-run lead. Harrison’s home run was big because it all but put the game away,’’ legendary Millers manager Vern Moehrs said. “It’s good to be back in the finals.’’
In search of its fifth Valmeyer Mid-Summer Classic title since 2006, Waterloo will take on another longtime Mon-Clair League rival — Millstadt VFW— in the title game, which is set for 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at Borsch Memorial Park. Millstadt VFW advanced with a wild 17-12 win over Cape Girardeau in the first semifinal.
Waterloo’s last title at Valmeyer came in 2013, while Millstadt last won in ’12 when it defeated Fairview Heights 8-4 in the final.
Valmeyer will battle Cape Girardeau in the third-place game at 12:30 p.m. while the 2014 champion St. Louis Spikes will play the St. Louis Printers in the consolation title game at 10 a.m.
Ohlau scored the first run of the game when he singled with one out in the second inning and went to third on a double by Justin Dunning. Wade Koester then drove in Ohlau in with a run-scoring ground out.
Valmeyer, which finished with 11 hits, had chances throughout the game against Rettig.
In the third inning John Wuelling led off with a single and stole second base.
One out later, Wuelling was thrown out attempting to steal third. That play, according to Valmeyer manager Dennis Pieper, was crucial to the Laker’ chances.
“It just wasn’t a very smart baseball play because he (Wuelling) was already in scoring position,’’ Pieper said. “If we score in that inning it’s a 1-1 game and maybe things are a little different. By us not scoring, it gave the momentum right back to Waterloo.
“That was a big play, but overall, we just didn’t get the big hit. A few times, we had runners in scoring position and we just couldn’t get a big hit. Especially early in the game.”
Rettig had a lot to say about that as he stranded nine Valmeyer runners in his 7 2/3 innings of work.
“He (Rettig) pitched well. He made big pitches in crucial situations when he needed too,’’ Moehrs said. “But our defense was great all day. Our center fielder (Ethan Ruff) just made a great catch early when we had only a 1-0 lead.’’
Millsatdt 17, Cape Girardeau 12: The catalyst of the Millstadt offense, Tony Kossina hit a three-run homer, had three hits and drove in five runs to highlight an offensive explosion as it collected 22 hits and went on for a semifinal win in a game which lasted more than three hours.
Just a little over 24 hours after a 9-6 first-round win over Belleville, Millstadt scored in every inning but one as it built an 11-3 lead after five innings then held off a late Cape Girardeau comeback attempt as it moved into the title game for the first time since 2012.
“We’ve got some players who can really hit the ball and today (Saturday) we came out early and were able to score some runs early. As it turns out, we needed them,’’ manager Norm Toenjes said. “Tony (Kossina) came out and had a really good day at the plate. Mitch (Matecki) had another one (home run). Brian Lupa had big day for us with I think, five hits.
“We had 22 hits today, so almost everybody contributed.’’
Jarod Mueth and Ryan Rist had home runs for Millstadt, while winning pitcher Cory Renois worked 6 1/3 innings for Millstadt VFW, which used four pitchers.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.