The Granite City Warriors’ St. Louis Amateur Baseball Association season ended on a down note last week as both of their 15- and 17-and-under teams were eliminated in the double-elimination playoff tournament.
Still, coach Scott Smallie was pleased with the way both of his teams played this season.
“In my opinion, the summer was a success because it got our kids opportunities to play and it gave the kids opportunities to see where they stand going into next year,” Smallie said.
The Warriors finished 0-2 in both divisions of the SLABA playoff tournament. Granite City’s 17-and-under team lost to O’Fallon 10-3 in its first game July 20 at Lutheran North High School and the Easton Tigers 4-1 in a loser’s bracket game at O’Fallon the next night.
The 15-and-under squad lost 13-10 to the Jefferson County Blazers on July 20 and 13-1 to Waterloo on July 22; both games were played at Waterloo.
Granite City completed its second season in the SLABA league, which is composed of 16 teams, eight from Illinois and eight from Missouri. Both the 15- and 17-and-under teams played Missouri teams such as the Easton Tigers, American National, St. Charles Capitals and the Dirtbags.
“It gave them an opportunity to play against teams that combined two or three high schools together,” Smallie said. “There were some pretty solid teams we ran up against. It gave them an opportunity to see teams that see players that we normally wouldn’t get to play against.”
The 17-and-under team finished with four victories. The Warriors beat American National twice and picked up wins over O’Fallon and Bethalto. Their roster was composed of mostly players who played with the Granite City varsity and junior varsity teams in the 2015 spring season. Collin Barrett, Sam Watson, Jordan James, Clay Caldwell, Trent Jones, Brandon Merz, Corey Slinkard, Jake Frievogel, B.J. Niesporek, Jacob Grayson, Andy Halley, Elijah Halley, Austin Kuenkler, James Marler, Blake Murphy, Latrell Smith, Trevor Nolan and Matt Woods made up the team.
“Those kids saw a lot of time in the field and pitching and whatever they did,” Smallie said. “We’re really looking forward to them to be our leaders, coming out in the offseason and leading by example and showing up and taking the other kids under their belts and show them what they need to work on and what they need to do for the following season.”
The 15-and-under team finished with two wins. Players on the team include Nicholas Beeman, Grant Beanland, Jack Biomme, Carl Carnes, Tyler Dagon, Lucas Foote, Christian Frasier, Nick French, Hector Leon, Cordell Mackin, Adam Marmion, Oliver Mitchell, Isaiah Mizell, Hunter Needham, Sam Roberds, Bailey Thompson, Nathin Toney, Nicholas Watson, Tyler Wheatley, Drew Wielgus and Aaron Wood.
“They were really competitive,” Smallie said. “It’s just that they have one bad inning. Like when we lost 13-1 (to Waterloo). But we’ve got them down 1-0 in the first inning and we don’t make a play and all of the sudden, it’s 3-1 and then the next thing you know it’s 7-1 and we can’t get out of an inning. They did OK. It’s just the same mentality. It gave the kids an opportunity to play and give them a chance to see where they match up with a lot of these St. Louis teams and stronger Illinois teams and see what they need to work on going forward next year.”
The Warriors will have five players participating in SLABA all-star competition on Aug. 2 at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, Mo. Watson, Niesporek and Jones will play in the 17-and-under all-star game and Wheatley and Needham will represent Granite City in the 15-and-under all-star contest.