The USSSA Illinois Open State Championship this past weekend in Crystal Lake against the Quad City Hitmen with Team Illini on top 6-3.
There were 16 AAA major teams from Chicago, Batavia, Oswego, Quad City, Naperville, Rockford, Cary, Mokena and Algonquin. Team Illini went 2-1 in regular pool play, giving up a loss to the Hitmen 9-1. The two-game win qualified the team for bracket play in the single elimination tournament. Team Illini beat the Batavia Bandits 10-1 and the Mokena Blaze 10-6, advancing to the championship game, where they again faced the Hitmen, ranked fourth nationally, to clinch the state championship title.
The team is coached by Mark Keller and assistant coach and brother Matt, both of Bethalto.
“I’m so fortunate to coach such a great group of boys. They are always looking for ways to improve their game. They eat, drink, and live for baseball and they back down to no team or challenge. I’m so happy that they can now call themselves state champions,” Mark Keller said.
On the mound for Team Illini was Andrew Barbee, who held the Hitmen for five innings with relief pitcher Brian Jubelt finishing out the win. A powerful offense was a major key to the team’s success throughout the weekend, with Nick Williams hitting three home runs, one of which was a grand slam.
Team Illini consists of Bryer Arview, Nick Brousseau, Andrew Fonrodona, Miguel Gonzalez (unable to attend this tournament), Hunter Keller, Peyton Keller and Nick Williams of Bethalto; Bryan Jubelt of Edwardsville; Collin Huffman of Roxana; Carter Brooks of Godfrey and Andrew Barbee of O’Fallon.
The team’s 2015 season is impressive, finishing with a 46-8-1 record.
W 15-0 over Diamond Starz
W 20-2 over Quad City Cannons
Quad City Hitmen
W 10-1 over Batavia Bandits
W 10-6 over Mokena Blaze
W 6-3 over Quad City Hitmen (championship)