SAUGET — Cody Bax was the difference-maker Monday at the fifth annual American Legion Baseball All-Star Border War between District 22 from Illinois and Missouri's District 10.
The Eureka outfielder pounded a solo homer in his first at-bat and turned in a 4-for-5 evening with two RBIs to lead the Missouri squad to a 6-1 victory over Illinois at GCS Ballpark.
Bax was named the game's Most Valuable Player as Missouri collected 13 hits to only four by Illinois, which was held in check by nine different Missouri pitchers.
"When you come into a game like this you know you're going to get everybody's best starting pitcher and they had a good group of guys, a lot of lefties," Belleville Hilgards manager Zach Rakowski said. "We had a lot of left-handed hitters too, so that makes it tough a little bit. Their defense made a lot of good plays when we did hit some balls hard, so that's kind of what happens sometimes."
Illinois had won the previous four meetings, including a 4-1 victory last summer. But this time an impressive group of Missouri hurlers shut the Illinois bats down, allowing only four hits.
"Everybody they brought in had really good stuff," said Belleville shortstop Aaron Meyer. "They could throw off-speed, they were all around the strike zone and they all did a real good job. They did a lot of good things tonight, they played baseball right."
A double by Matt Hresko and Lucas Mueller's RBI single gave Missouri a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Illinois tied it on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Fairview Heights slugger and Southeast Missouri State recruit Alex Siddle.
Bax ripped a solo homer to right off Alton right-hander Blake Novack leading off the second and an Alec Williams RBI single chased home another run.
Missouri added three more runs in the seventh on three straight run-scoring hits from Taylor Baden, Zach Orlando and Bax.
Illinois got its only run in the first inning following a walk to Fairview Heights infielder Vinnie Birk and single by Alton's Shane Mathews. Edwardsville's Derek Page reached on an error and Siddle delivered a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
"We were able to push one across, probably left a couple there that inning," Rakowski said. "We had some other innings where we had some guys on and they'd make a really good defensive play or we'd hit a ball right at somebody."
District 22 had two runners reach safely in the third, the seventh and ninth innings, but could never string hits together.
Meyer was joined by four other Belleville teammates, but enjoyed being part of a larger metro-east squad.
"Absolutely, it's an honor," he said. "Just the surroundings, here with all your friends and just playing baseball and doing the thing you love."
* Collinsville has decided to forfeit the rest of its games because there weren't enough players to finish out the season,
A District 22 official said all Collinsville games played earlier this season will be taken out of the records. As a result the South Division playoffs are expected to be a four-team playoff beginning Sunday.
* The Junior Legion All-Star Game featuring District 22 vs. District 23 will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at GCS Ballpark in Sauget.
Illinois District 22 Senior Legion All-Stars
Pitchers: Jevon Boyd, Edwardsville; Jake Childerson, Highland; Nick Dorsey, Bethalto; Jake Haberer, Highland; Geoff Hartlieb, Highland; Nick Hoff, Glen Carbon; Dalton Johnson, Troy; Sam Lidisky, Belleville; Aaron Meyer, Belleville; Blake Novack, Alton; Alex Siddle, Fairview Heights; Caleb Tatum, Belleville; Justin Wallace, Fairview Heights
Catchers: Aaron Krummrich, Fairview Heights; Nick Schranck, Alton
Infielders: Vinnie Birk, Fairview Heights; Shane Fencel, Bethalto; Jake Haberer, Highland; Alex Heitzman, Belleville; Nick Hoff, Glen Carbon; Jason Klein, Belleville; Sam Lidisky, Belleville; Jaren Linton, Bethalto; Chase McPeak, Edwardsville; Aaron Meyer, Belleville; Andrew Range, Troy; Adam Richter, Highland; Alex Siddle, Fairview Heights
Outfielders: Nick Dorsey, Bethalto; Trevor Engelke, Glen Carbon; Joe Kapp, Freeburg-Smithton; Shane Mathews, Alton; Derek Page, Edwardsville; Darin Pitts, Fairview Heights; Caleb Tatum, Belleville; Justin Wallace, Fairview Heights
DH: Jevon Boyd, Edwardsville; Bryan Ricci, Bethalto
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.