ALTON - There was a load of excitement in Upper Alton Thursday afternoon as the Alton Middle School eighth-grade baseball team had a big sendoff for their trip to the Illinois Education Association Class 3A State Baseball Tournament this weekend.

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The Redbirds defeated Greenville 4-1 Saturday in the Gillespie Sectional championship to advance. This is Alton's first-ever appearance in the state baseball tournament, and the team enters with a 14-1 record.

Alton Middle School Athletic Director Ann Cotton said the players did a walk through the school and fellow students had posters out and cheered them on for their walk to the departing school bus. Once they were on the bus and left, the Alton Police did a police escort out of the city. It seemed the Alton Middle School student body was excited as the players for their next state quest.

The athletic director said because of COVID-19, they could not have a pep rally, but this was the next best thing.

Cotton said this group of boys are “good kids” and work as hard in the classroom as they do on the baseball field.

“We are very proud of the boys,” she said.

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The boys are coached by Brett Huff and he is assisted by Scott Harper, the Alton High School varsity coach who also coaches the seventh-graders.

The names of the players are Donovan Ducey, Logan Bromaghim, Nathanael Rich, Deacon Alm, Jack Middleton, Gavin Meyers, Parker Wendle, Hayden LaPlant, Drew Sullivan, Anderson Kaufmann, Alex Pilger, Jack Puent, Logan Hickman, and Brayden Buchanan.

Coach Huff said the team’s send-off was great with the student participation.

“There was a little parade route through the school,” he said. “The kids were spaced out in the hallways and the players walked through them and down through the main. Some of the kids lined the sidewalks outside. The police then escorted them down Illinois Route 140. Everybody was out cheering; the kids were pretty excited.”

More from the two coaches in a story to come.

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