Get The Latest News!

Don't miss our top stories and need-to-know news everyday in your inbox.

ALTON – The Metro East Bears battled, scratched and clawed their way to the final of the 2015 American Legion Great Lakes Regional baseball tournament Sunday.

In the end, though, they fell just a game short of the American Legion World Series as the Bears dropped a 14-4, eight-inning decision to Midland, Mich., at Gordon Moore Park/Lloyd Hopkins Field Sunday afternoon, sending Midland to the World Series for the fifth time since 2008. The Bears had gotten to the championship game by grinding out a 3-2 win over Madison, Wis., earlier in the day.

The Bears, who finished the season with a mark of 31-10, had to come through the loser's bracket to get to the final, much like they did to get to last weekend's Illinois state championship game against Elgin, and while they fell short, the effort and character of the team did manager Ken Schaake proud.

“I'm proud of all of them,” Schaake said. “All season long, they wanted to prove they belonged here; they knew they were going to be in the regional but they wanted to get there legitimately, and they did. The won the (District 22) tournament, they won the Fifth Division, they earned their way to the regional by reaching the state championship game and they earned their way here today.

“They have a lot of pride in themselves; no matter what, they kept working at it and they had an attitude of 'I've got your back'. We had kids from different schools who had played against each other during the high school season, but once they got together, but about the third game we had against Jerseyville, we all knew we had something special.”

Article continues after sponsor message

Metro East would not had gotten into the final without a tremendous effort in their win over Madison, and they got it from pitcher Jake St. Peters, who gave up just four hits – none after the fourth – and used his defense to wear down Madison.

Against Midland – who the Bears had defeated the night before to get to the final day – the Michigan state champions got out in front right from the start, scoring in the first when Carson Eby singled in Connor Smith, then picking up four more runs in the third highlighted by a Eby RBI double and RBI singles by Cole Brooks and Jordan Dopp.

“They've got a good team,” Schaake said. “We wish them good luck in the World Series. It's tough to win it – we've been there ourselves – but they have a good program and we wish them the best.”

Metro East scored twice in the fourth thanks to a sacrifice fly from Maverick McSparin and a RBI single from Nick Paulda, but Midland countered with four runs of their own on just one hit and a couple of Bear errors, enough to chase starting pitcher Aaron Jackson and bring in Kory Loew, who shut the door down on Midland.

Midland scored twice more in the fifth to extend the lead to 11-2, but the Bears cut it to 11-4 in the sixth on a two-RBI single from Jordan Hovey. That was as close as they could get as Midland brought in two more runs in the seventh and closed the game out on a Derrick Clyde double in the eighth that drove home Caleb Sommerville.

 Madison had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first in the day's opener on a grounder to second by Chad Herbst and Andrew Pilner reaching on an error that scored Kian O'Brien and Sam Schween, but the Bears got the runs back in the third when Caleb Buhs opened by being hit by a pitch and Drake Hampton singled. A one-out single from Jackson then began a wild series of events that led to two Madison errors and two runs for the Bears that tied it up.

Metro East got the winning run on a miscue as well in the sixth when Madison pitcher Sam Lund speared a shot from McSparin and tried to double Jackson off second, but the throw sailed high and allowed Jackson to score what proved to be the winning run. St. Peters then took control, not allowing a runner past second and retiring 11 in a row at one point.

“It's leaving a sour taste in my mouth,” St. Peters admitted after the day ended. “I was hoping for a different ending, but many of us will be back next year and we're looking forward to it.”

More like this:

Mar 6, 2024 - Historic Growth: Girls Flag Football Now an IHSA Sanctioned Sport

Feb 12, 2024 - Oilers Down Piasa Birds 41-27 To Advance To IHSA 2A Girls Regional Semis

Feb 22, 2024 - Wednesday, Feb. 21 Sports Round-Up: Calhoun, Collinsville Advance To Title Games; Edwardsville Hockey Wins

Feb 28, 2024 - Tuesday, Feb. 27 Sports Round-Up: West Central Beats Madison, Centralia Tops Highland

Feb 5, 2024 - Best Finish Ever: Edwardsville Cheerleaders Bring Home Second Place From IHSA State Meet

Related Video:

The 2016 American Legion Great Lakes Regional Tournament Championship