TRENTON - The Alton Post 126 junior American Legion baseball team set the tone of the game from the start with a seven-run first inning and saw three players drive in two runs each as the junior Legionnaires advanced to the losers bracket final of the Fifth Division tournament over Steeleville 9-2 Thursday evening at Trenton City Park.

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Alton advanced to the final of the bracket, where they await the loser of Jerseyville and Trenton, who squared off in the winners bracket final for the right to advance to the tournament finals. And the junior Legionnaires didn't waste time in going off to the early lead.

"Great stuff," said Alton manager Doug Booten. "That was the difference, that first inning. Everyone came in that first, put their hitting shoes on and did the things."

And the pitching was excellent as well, as a pair of pitchers combined to allow Steeleville two runs on five hits throughout the game. And although Alton is in the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament. this is a team to be reckoned with.

"Just like last night, we had another well-pitched game, this one from Tyler (Robinson)," Booten said. "We are in the losers bracket, but this group really came together in mid-season, and we have the pitching to come back and win it."

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The junior Legionnaires set the tone with their seven-run top of the first, then scored another run in the top of the fourth to take an 8-0 lead. Steeleville countered in the bottom of the fourth with their only two runs of the game, with Alton scoring a single run in the seventh to take the 9-2 win and advance to the losers bracket final.

Logan Bogard led the way offensively with three hits and two RBIs for the Junior Legionnaires, while Lucas Moore had three hits and drove in a run, Robinson and James Stendeback both had a pair of hits and an RBI each, Seth Slayden and Max Holmes each had a hit and a pair of RBIs and Ashton Schepers, Reece Girth and Jon Webb all had hits on the night.

Robinson pitched very well, going six innings and allowing two runs on four hits, walking two and striking out five, while Girth tossed the seventh and only allowed one hit in preserving the Alton win.

Alton plays the loser of the Jerseyville-Trenton game for the right to advance to Saturday's tournament finals. The first game starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Trenton, with a second game starting 30 minutes after the first game if needed. Booten is very confident that the team will do well and advance to the state tournament, which will be held next week.

"I really am," Booten said. "It's been a journey with these kids, and it's been fun to watch them."

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