CAROL STREAM – Metro East’s bid to win an Illinois American Senior Legion baseball championship came up short Saturday in Chicagoland.
Elgin defeated the Bears, 9-5, in the title game to go undefeated through the weeklong state tournament. Metro East would have had to beat Elgin twice on Saturday to snare the Illinois title.
Nevertheless, both teams will play next week in the eight-team Great Lakes Regional in Alton. The 27-8 Bears face 20-1 Rockport, the Indiana state champion, at 7:30 Wednesday night. Elgin, owner of a 34-1 record, tangles with the Wisconsin state runner-up at 4 p.m. that day.
Midland, Mich., and Paducah, Ky., also have qualified for the five-day regional at Hopkins Field in Moore Park. Those two teams play each other at 10 a.m. in the Great Lakes opener.
The Wisconsin survivor faces Troy, the Ohio winner, at 1 p.m. Both of those state championships are playing out this weekend. Madison and Plover are battling it out for the Wisconsin championship.
Four regional games are slated daily next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Then two games are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, and Sunday, Aug. 9. The regional winner moves on to the Legion World Series, set for Aug. 13-18, in Shelby, N.C. Alton played host to the 2000 World Series.
Metro East Post 199/126, which lost its first game to Mattoon in the state finals, then won three in succession, including two Friday.
Then errors doomed the Bears from the outset against Elgin. The winners took advantage of three Metro East errors to build a 4-0 advantage early on and never looked back. Bears’ starter Maverick McSparin was the tough-luck losing pitcher. He allowed just three earned runs in 6.1 innings.
Anthony Kindle of Metro East stroked a two-run single in the fifth to cut Elgin’s lead to 4-2. But Elgin forged ahead 6-2 by the seventh and 9-2 in the eighth.
Jordan Hovey hit a home run for the Bears in the bottom of the eighth to cut the lead to 9-3. And Nick Paulda’s RBI double and Drake Hampton’s run-scoring highlighted a two-run ninth.
Elgin, however, held on for the victory, its fourth successive one at state. It’s the best finish for a Post 126 team at state. Alton took third four years ago. Post 199 won the Illinois tourney at Trenton in 2013 and also finished first in 1998, when Edwardsville reigned as World Series king.
Prior to the start of next week’s regional, Post 199/126 will hold a tournament banquet Tuesday. It’s set for 6:30 at the Spencer T. Olin Community Golf Course banquet center. Mike Girsh, assistant general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, is the keynote speaker.