TRENTON — The Trenton Post 778 Senior Legion baseball team reached one of its goals Thursday at the American Legion State Tournament.
Playing on its home turf at Pete Schumacher Field, Trenton proved it belonged with the state's elite.
Pitchers Grant Weber and Zach Grob combined to hold Elk Grove to seven hits, while Brady Kunz went 4-for-5 to highlight an 11-hit attack as Trenton kept its title hopes alive with a 6-3 win at Trenton City Park.
Entering tournament play with a 17-14 record, Trenton was throttled 11-0 by defending state champion Moline on Wednesday in its opening-round game. But after falling behind 2-0 after five innings against Elk Grove, Trenton responded with a four-run sixth inning and was on its way to an 11 a.m. contest against Wheaton (35-13) on Friday.
Catcher Alex Quitmeyer keyed the four-run Trenton outburst with a two-run double.
"It means a lot to us to win a game at the state tournament,'' Trenton manager Kyle Jones said. "We're very proud of our tradition and we feel we play very good baseball in this area. There have been some excellent teams and great players -- guys who have made the major leagues -- from this area.''
Beaten by Edwardsville 8-1 on Wednesday, Elk Grove (29-8) bows out of the tournament after its second straight loss.
Given a spark by a diving catch by right fielder Keith Haselhorst in the first inning, Weber was impressive through four innings.
But singles by Patrick O'Malley and Thomas Byrne, followed by an RBI double by Jordan Grubb, led to a pair of runs as Elk Grove took a 2-0 lead through five innings.
Weber worked six innings, allowing five hits and two runs. He walked four and struck out four, before Grob took over in the seventh with the lead.
"We got a big catch from our right fielder (Haselhorst) in the first inning and I thought that gave us a lift. It was a big play for us,'' Jones said. "Both Grant (Weber) and Zach Grob threw the ball well. They got ahead of the hitters and we made the plays.''
After holding Trenton to just five hits in the first five innings, Elk Grove pitcher Alex Tinkoff opened the sixth by walking Chase Klein and giving up a bunt single to Kunz.
Michael Klein then made it 2-1 with an RBI double and three pitches later, Trenton had the lead for good after Quitmeyer's double scored both Kunz and Klein, giving Trenton a 3-2 lead.
A batter later, a Ryan Meadows' single put Trenton up 4-2.
The lost lead was something Elk Grove manager Kevin Miller had seen before.
"That's been one of our problems recently. We've had a lead and then given it up,'' Miller said. "I know we just qualified for the state tournament on Monday, but we're not going to use fatigue as an excuse. That would be the easy way out.
"I choose to think that we lost to a team that just was better than we were today.''
Trenton added two insurance runs in the eighth on a throwing error and a sacrifice fly by Justin Groennert.