ALTON – Alton American Legion Post 126 embarked on a new era Sunday afternoon, the post fielding their own senior baseball team for the first time in five years as they swept a season-opening doubleheader over Breese Post 252’s junior team 14-4 in six innings and 8-3 at Alton High School to open the summer at 2-0.

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Alton had combined with Edwardsville Post 199 since 2014 to field a senior Legion team known as the Metro East Bears; the Edwardsville post will continue on this summer with their own senior Legion baseball as the Edwardsville Bears.

“These guys came out here hitting the ball well,” said Post 126 manager Nick Paulda. “We’re a good-hitting ball club; (Griffin) Bianco did hit one out of the park – he got a good swing on it – but we’re not going to be a team that will be doing that all summer and we know that. We had a lot of base hits, a lot of doubles, that’s what we’re going to be doing, stretch out a lot of base hits, we’re going to be stealing, we’re going to be dealing on the basepaths and that’s where we’re going to be getting most of our wins.

“It’s all about trying to get those extra runs, get as many extra bases, as many free bases that they’re going to give us – as long as our pitchers are throwing strikes and getting ground balls and outs, we’re going to be just fine.”

Alton had a big third inning in the opener, scoring seven runs off Breese and sending 12 to the plate in the inning; the big blow of the inning was a two-RBI single from Jayce Maag of Marquette Catholic. Bianco opened the scoring with a solo shot over the fence in the bottom of the second to get Alton going.

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Simon Nguyen got the ball to open the season for Alton and threw five innings, conceding four runs (two earned) on five hits and striking out a pair in getting the win, with Zach Knight throwing the sixth for Post 126, dismissing one by strikeout and giving up a hit.

Bianco was 1-for-3 with a homer, RBI and run scored in the opener, with Maag 3-for-5 with a double, four RBIs and two runs scored; Adam Stilts 1-for-5 with a double, RBI and three runs scored, Nathan Lemons 1-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored, Bryce Parish 1-for-3 with a run scored, Ethan Kopsie 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored and Elijah Dannenbrink 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Post 126 got off to a 5-1 lead in the nightcap and scored three more times in the bottom of the sixth go run out winners in the game; Maag was 3-for-4 in the game with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored for Alton, with Ryan Best 3-for-3 with two doubles, and RBI and two runs scored and Stilts 1-for-3 with a double, RBI and three runs scored. Cullen McBride and Bianco were both 1-for-3 in the game while Zaide Wilson had a run scored.

Michael Reeder got the win for the Legionnaires in the nightcap, striking out six over five innings of work; Lemons and Parish each had time on the mound in the game, Lemons fanning one and Parish two.

“It was a good way to start the season,” Paulda said. “We’re looking to get better as the season goes on.”

Alton hosts Festus, Mo., at 8 p.m. Monday at Roy Lee Field at SIU-Edwardsville before heading to East St. Louis for a 6 p.m. Wednesday District 22 opener before playing in the Ballwin (Mo.) Tournament beginning Thursday and running through June 10.

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