ALTON – Jacob St. Peters and Maverick McSparin combined their efforts in a winning way for the Metro East Bears on Wednesday night.
St. Peters provided the bulk of the pitching and McSparin did the hitting as the Bears blanked Highland, 2-0, in an American Senior Legion District 22 baseball game at Gordon Moore Park.
The 9-1 Bears won for the second time in three nights at Hopkins Field. They are 2-0 in league action and have an 8 p.m. date Thursday in Belleville. Highland is 0-2 and 0-1. Post 439 dropped its season opener Tuesday.
“The difference was that our pitchers didn’t walk any batters and we put the ball in play,” Metro East manager Ken Schaake said.
St. Peters, improving to 3-0, worked the first five innings and allowed two hits while striking out five. Connor Melton pitched a perfect sixth and Aaron Jackson followed him with a 1-2-3 seventh.
Brendan Stanfield singled in the second and fourth innings for Highland’s only hits. McSparin supplied a run-scoring single in the first and then singled and scored in the third. The Bears’ third-place hitter went 2-for-3 and had both of their hits.
“It was a pitcher’s duel,” said McSparin, scheduled to pitch Thursday night against Belleville. “I’m new to hitting No. 3 in the lineup, but I feel comfortable doing it. I really love Legion baseball and I come to play every day.”
Schaake seconded that notion about the Edwardsville product. “He wants to play and he comes to play,” the manager said. “He’s a good player and he can pitch.”
St. Peters did most of the pitching against Highland. The visitors never got more than one runner on base in any inning and didn’t get a hit after the fourth inning.
“It was one of my better outings,” said St. Peters, a senior-to-be for the Alton Redbirds. “I had my fastball and slider working. I was just trying to do my job and get it done.”
He likes the way the Bears have begun their season. They opened with seven consecutive victories.
“I think we have a lot of potential,” St. Peters said.
Schaake noted, “Jacob did a nice job and we played good defense behind him.”
McSparin’s first-inning single drove home Drake Hampton, who drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second in a wild pitch. In the third, McSparin singled, went to second on a passed ball and then to third on a wild pitch. He scored on another wild one from Highland starter Brandon Camp.
“They (Bears) had a lot of chances the first three innings and I do believe we were fortunate just to be trailing 2-0,” Highland manager Harry Painter said. “Their starting pitcher was very good and he had a good knuckle curve working.”
Painter added, “We have a lot of interesting things going on with our pitching, but we will get our team going. We have only played two games and we have to reboot a little after winning the high school state championship.”
Highland High snared the Class 3A IHSA baseball title with a seven-game run that included two wins in the Jersey Regional.
“The pitching we are going to see in this league is going to be pretty good this summer and we have to rise to it," Painter said.
McSparin, meanwhile, is eager to pitch against Belleville at Whitey Herzog Field. The Bears and the Hilgards could be battling for the district title.
“It’s my first start of the year and I’m excited about it,” McSparin said.
METRO EAST 2, HIGHLAND 0
Highland 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
Metro East 101 000 X – 2 2 2
Highland (0-2, 0-1) – Brendan Stanfield 2-2. LP – Brandon Camp IP-4 H-2 R-2 ER-2 BB-3 K-0; Sam Green IP-2 H-0 R-0 BB-1 K-0
Metro East (9-1, 2-0) – Maverick McSparin 2-2 RBI. WP – Jacob St. Peters IP-5 H-2 R-0 BB-0 K-5; Connor Melton IP-1 H-0 R-0 BB-0 K-1; Aaron Jackson IP-1 H-0 R-0 BB-0 K-1