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Photo by Diane Cox
Bears pitcher Ray Bailey releases the ball on a delivery against Belleville at Lloyd Hopkins field at Gordon Moore park.
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Photo by Diane Cox
Belleville Austin Keen slides into first base to avoid the pick-off under the Bears first baseman Drew Curtis.
The Metro East Bears clinched a portion of the American Senior Legion District 22 regular-season baseball championship Wednesday night.
But they did it the hard way.
The Bears lost to Belleville, 4-2, at Moore Park in Alton, then rallied to defeat Collinsville, 8-2, at Fletcher Field. Metro East, now 20-6 overall, finished 10-2 in the seven-team district.
Belleville, now 27-7 overall and 8-2 in league action, can tie Metro East for the league title. However, the Hilgards must defeat Highland on Thursday and Fairview Heights on Friday to share the championship.
If the Hilgards lose one of those two games, the Bears finish first in the league and get the top seed – along with home field advantage – for the district tournament that starts this weekend.
If Belleville and Metro East both have identical 10-2 district records, the Hilgards secure the No. 1 tourney seed and home field advantage. Head-to-head competition would be the tie-breaker. Belleville is 2-0 against Metro East this season, including a 3-1 win at Whitey Herzog Field.
A seven-run seventh inning late Wednesday enabled the Bears to prevail at Collinsville. Riley Caselton got the winner in relief of Tommy Flack. Caselton pitched the final four innings and didn’t give up a run.
Parker Beine of Belleville logged his second win over Metro East in the first game. He allowed five hits, struck out six and worked around a two-run fifth. Ray Bailey absorbed the loss, yielding four runs –three of them earned – in 6.2 innings.
Leadoff hitter Sam Haudrich sparked the Hilgards by going 3-for-4 with a triple and driving in two runs. He tripled to start the game and Belleville scored twice in the first inning and once in the second. Haudrich added a run-scoring single in the seventh.
Kyle Zach’s run-scoring triple in the fifth, followed by Jacob Skrabacz’s RBI grounder, accounted for the Bears’ runs. Metro East missed an opportunity to score in the fourth when Drew Curtis doubled and Nick Paulda singled with one out.
They had runners on second and third with one out, but failed to score.
“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities and they did,” Metro East manager Ken Schaake said of the Hilgards.
On Tuesday night, the Illinois Legion all-stars defeated their Missouri counterparts 1-0 in an eight-inning game at GCS Ballpark in Sauget.
Kyle Boewe of Fairview Heights settled the extra-inning affair with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth. Metro East’s Curtis scored the lone run.
Flack, Casey Fair, Paulda, Austin Stilts and Curtis represented the Bears in the All-Star affair. Illinois now leads the annual Border War game by a 6-1 margin.
League playoffs are scheduled to start Sunday in the seven-team District 22. Following the double-elimination district playoffs, the Fifth Division Tournament unfolds at New Baden. Arlington Heights of Chicagoland is welcoming the state tourney and the Great Lakes Regional is poised to play out at Terre Haute, Ind.