ALTON – Four games in two days at the Firecracker Tournament were beneficial for the Jerseyville American Senior Legion baseball team.
Take it from Post 492 manager Darren Perdun. He saw plenty of positive developments.
“It’s a good tournament for us because we get to play quality competition right before our district and division play,” Perdun said. “It’s a good format for us.”
Post 492 divided four tourney games at Hopkins Field in Moore Park to push its record to 10-4. Jerseyville defeated St. Charles, Mo., 7-4, and Eureka, Mo., 1-0 on Friday in Pool A. Then it lost to Bryant, Ark., 8-1 and the Metro East bears, 2-0 on Saturday.
“We’re still young, meaning there’s a lot of room for growth,” Perdun said. “We’ve been playing great defensively and pitching well. But we are struggling to hit.”
Jerseyville scored just one run – an unearned one – in Saturday’s games with Bryant and Metro East. Post 492 went scoreless over its final 13 innings.
Yet Perdun figures Post 492, which sought some quality games prior to participating in district and division action, got what it needed.
“We want to come back and play in this tournament next year,” Perdun said. “It’s a short drive and I like the idea of playing four games in two days.
“It’s a good measuring stick for us.”
Michael Sheldon and Jacob Witt registered tourney victories and Drake Kanallakan pitched well enough to win against Metro East. He allowed just three hits and two runs – Drew Curtis’ two-run home run – against the Bears.
“We knew what he (Curtis) can do,” Perdun said of the two-run home run in the third inning Saturday night. “But that’s the name of the game when you make one mistake to the wrong guy.”
There will be time for Post 492 to regroup. It’s idle until the District 20 tournament begins Sunday in Jerseyville. The host team faces Calhoun in a best two-of-three series for the district title.
Both teams will move on to the five-team Third Division tourney, set to start July 21 in Jerseyville. The division champion qualifies for the state finals in Arlington Heights.
“We have a few days off, so we will have some practices,” Perdun said. “The good thing is that everything is at home for the district and division. There’s something to be said for sleeping in your own bed.”
Three of Jerseyville’s victories have come against St. Charles, Mo., and Post 492 owns two wins over both Calhoun and Pittsfield.
Jake Varble and Will Mortland join Kanallakan, Sheldon and Witt in adding depth to the pitching staff. Both worked in the Firecracker Tournament. Hunter Bryant, Lane Powers, Brendan Kennedy, Chance Tallman, Michael Clendenen, Kelynn Manning, Cole Berry and James Holmes can supply hitting and defense.
“If we pitch well and play good defense, we can compete against anybody,” Perdun said.