What a difference a year makes.

At this time last summer, there was no Post 21 American Legion baseball team, as the longtime Independence squad disbanded because of a lack of interest, a manager and players and fielded just a junior AA team instead.

This summer, manager Greg Lundquist’s squad is the surprise team in the 31st annual American Legion Wood Bat Invitational as the coach’s son and his batterymate did much of the damage in a 9-2 victory over longtime rival Blue Springs Post 499 Fike.

That gave Post 21 a 4-0 record and helped them win their pool Friday afternoon at Hidden Valley Park. Independence, which entered the tournament with a 3-15 record overall, earned an automatic berth into the tournament’s Saturday quarterfinals.

Starter Brett Lundquist allowed just two runs over six innings and collected three singles, while scoring two runs and driving home two more at the plate.

His catcher, Cooper Sumpter, joined in on the offensive fun with an RBI double and a single, and he also scored two runs.

“Brett did a nice job on the mound and at the plate and Cooper did a nice job catching Brett and getting a couple of big hits,” Greg Lundquist said. “I’m proud of these guys.

“We didn’t even have a team last summer and we’ve had some struggles this season, but we have really turned it up in the tournament. That’s our first win (this season) against Fike and we have spread the three other teams we played, so we’re really excited to see what happens Saturday.”

Through three innings Friday, Fike held onto a 2-1 lead on RBI singles by Aaron Jones and Easton Harmsen.

Post 21 (7-15), though, exploded for four runs in each of the fourth and sixth innings with Cooper and Lundquist in the middle of the offensive fun.

“It feels so great to play this well in the Wood Bat tournament,” said Brett Lundquist, who allowed seven hits and struck out one to earn the win. “Coop did a great job behind the plate, and I just pitched to contact and let my defense back me up.”

Sumpter said he had a game plan going into the big game against Fike and Lundquist followed it to perfection.

“We weren’t looking for a lot of strikeouts from Brett,” Sumpter said. “We were using his curveball to set up his fastball. This is one of his best starts this season. Man, we’re 4-0 in the tournament and we’re all pretty excited.”

It was the first loss in the tournament for the host Fike team, which played its final pool play games late Thursday and late Friday, along with serving as a grounds crew following its games.

“Never using this as an excuse,” Fike manager Matt Hagerty said, “but I think our guys were a little tired mentally and physically today. We made some mistakes we usually don’t make – and I’m not taking anything away from Post 21.

“They got the big hits when they needed them and they got a great performance out on the mound. We had the chance to break the game open early and couldn’t do it.”

With runners on first and second with two outs, and leading 2-1 in the top of the third inning, Fike’s Brad Kitsmiller hit a screaming line drive that had extra bases written all over it.

But Post 21 third baseman Kade Sedorcek jumped high and was able to snag the ball, with plenty of white showing at the tip of his glove.

“Kade doesn’t play that much third base,” Brett Lundquist said, “and that was definitely the defensive play of the game. That play probably saved two runs. It could have been a 4-1 game, instead of a 2-1 game. It was huge!”

Sumpter, Lundquist and Bradley Menzies had two hits each for Post 21. Menzies hit a two-run double in the sixth inning.

Harmsen and Deryk Carey had two hits for Fike, which was 2-1 in the tournament entering Friday’s late game.

Late Thursday, Fike defeated Overland (Mo.) Post 338 Thoman Boothe 9-2 behind a strong outing by pitcher Tyler Slinkerd, who allowed just three hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Harmsen was was 3-for-3 with two RBIs to lead Fike at the plate. Tommy Mortallaro and Carey each added a double, a single and two RBIs, Caden Rardon drove in two runs and Aaron Jones (two stolen bases) and Christian Lynn each contributed two hits.