The Metro East Bears needed a win to remain alive in the American Legion Senior state tournament on Thursday in Wheaton.
Playing host Wheaton Post 76, the Bears pulled out a 5-4 victory to keep going in the tournament. Metro East is now 25-7. The win came a day after the Bears saw their seven-game win streak and six-game run in the playoffs come to an end.
Ben Cusac notched the win, working seven innings on the hill, while fellow Alton product Drake Hampton entered in relief to lock down a two-inning save.
Metro East is back in action at noon on Friday vs. Mattoon, the team that defeated them, 10-3, on Wednesday. Mattoon fell to Elgin 8-2 on Thursday to set up the do-or-die contest with the Bears.
Elgin is 2-0 in the double-elimination state finals, while Mattoon is 1-1. Northwest eliminated Galesburg, 12-11 in Thursday's late game. So the six-team tourney is reduced to four teams. Wheaton is also out.
Following the Metro East-Mattoon game at noon Friday, it'll be unbeaten Elgin playing Northwest, which has one loss, at 330. Then the Metro East-Mattoon survivor faces the loser of the Elgin-Northwest game at 7:30.
Finals are scheduled Saturday, with the first game slated to start at 11 a.m. The state champion advances to next week's Great Lakes Regional at Alton's Moore Park. The Metro East Bears already have a berth in the eight-team regional since they are the host team.