ALTON – Strong pitching carried the Jerseyville Senior Legion baseball team to a pair of victories Friday in the opening day of the Firecracker Tournament.
Post 492 defeated St. Charles, Mo., 7-4, and Eureka, Mo. 1-0 at Hopkins Field in Moore Park. Jerseyville, 10-3 after those two wins in Pool A, is scheduled to play twice Saturday. The 15-team tourney, which features three groups, concludes Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Metro East Bears split a pair of home games on their own field. They lost to defending tourney champion Bryant, Ark., 8-0, and then shut out Eureka, 8-0.
So after the first day of pool play, Jerseyville and Bryant are 2-0. Metro East is 1-1, while St. Charles and Eureka are 0-2.
Metro East improved to 2-1 in the tourney and 17-5 overall by shading St. Charles, 3-2, on Saturday morning. Unbeaten Tommy Flack improved to 6-0 in logging the victory. Drew Curtis picked up a save.
The Bears will play Jerseyville at 7 p.m. in their final Pool A game. Jerseyville has a 4:45 game scheduled against 28-4 Bryant.
The pool winner automatically advances to the tournament semifinals on Sunday at Longacre Field in Fairview Heights. Pool winners from Fairview Heights and Belleville, plus one wild card representative, qualify for the semis that start at 11 a.m.
The Pool A winner meets the Pool B winner at 11 a.m. Sunday. The Pool C champion plays the wild card team at 1:15. The championship contest is tentatively set for 3:30. Bryant beat Jefferson City, Mo., in last year’s finals.
Jerseyville’s Jacob Witt pitched a shutout against Eureka, as the visitors stranded a dozen runners. Jacob Trueb of Metro East then twirled a shutout against Eureka.
Lefty Michael Sheldon got the win in Jerseyville’s win over St. Charles. Post 492 built a 7-0 lead and held on for the win.
“We’re playing quality competition here, so it’s a good tournament for us,” Jerseyville manager Darren Perdun said.
Carter Hayden’s bunt single in the first inning was the lone hit in the Bears’ lopsided loss to Bryant. Casey Fair absorbed the loss, though shoddy fielding hurt him.
Winning hurler Trey Breeding needed only 56 pitches to subdue the Bears. He struck out two, walked one and retired 16 consecutive batters at one point.
“It was his first start of the year and our pitcher threw a great game,” Bryant manager Darren Hurt said.
Bears’ manager Ken Schaake said, “You aren’t going to win too many games with only two baserunners. It worked out well for them and they have a really good team.”