Metro-east Class 3A-4A baseball playoff outlook

News-DemocratMay 25, 2014 

Here is a capsulized look at the metro-east Class 3A and Class 4A baseball regionals:

Class 4A Belleville East Regional

Seeds: (1) O'Fallon (31-3), (2) Collinsville (18-15), (3) Belleville East (16-12), (4) Belleville West (15-16), (5) Granite City (15-20)

Pick: O'Fallon

Could Challenge: The winner of the Collinsville-Belleville East semifinal game

Outlook: O'Fallon has the pitching depth and talent to emerge, but the Panthers were knocked out early last season and will need a strong performance to advance. Collinsville has a dominant pitcher in Missouri recruit Tanner Houck. but Belleville East has a knack of finding ways to win.

Alton Regional

Seeds: (1) Edwardsville (28-6), (2) Alton (21-14), (3) Quincy, (4) Pekin, (5) Danville

Pick: Edwardsville

Could Challenge: Alton

Outlook: Edwardsville has been winning baseball regionals for more than three decades and it takes a wooden stake through the Tigers' heart to get them eliminated. Especially with a power-packed lineup that includes Aaron Jackson (.441, three homers, 27 RBIs), Brock Weimer (.437, 12 doubles, five homers, 29 RBIs) and Austin Werner (.390, five doubles, three triples, four homers, 22 RBIs). One of the region's deepest pitching staffs includes Alex Meyers (8-0, 0.97 ERA), Daniel Lloyd (7-0, 0.50 ERA), Jackson (4-2, 0.95 ERA) and Jordan Hovey (1-3, 0.81 ERA). Alton has a dominant two-way threat in left-handed junior Bryan Hudson, currently hitting .333 with five homers and 32 RBIs. On the mound, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Hudson is drawing raves because of his 9-4 record, 1.33 ERA and 104 strikeouts in just 68 2/3 innings. Alton also has one of the region's top catchers in Nick Paulda (.357, 12 doubles, four triples, one homer, 37 RBIs).

Class 3A Waterloo Regional

Top Seeds: (1) Mascoutah (28-6), (2) Columbia (19-10), (3) Waterloo (19-13), (4) Cahokia (0-12), (5) East St. Louis (2-14)

Pick: Mascoutah

Could Challenge: The winner of the Columbia-Waterloo game

Outlook: Mascoutah is deep in talent and battle-tested with numerous starters with two or three years experience. The could be the Indians' year, but Waterloo has heated up down the stretch and recently knocked off top-ranked 4A power O'Fallon.

Highland Regional

Seeds: (1) Civic Memorial (19-10), (2) Highland (20-13), (3) Jerseyville (22-12), (4) Triad (14-19), (5) Marquette (14-9)

Pick: Highland

Could Challenge: Civic Memorial

Outlook: The Illinois High School Association invited Marquette to this Mississippi Valley Conference tournament in what figures to be an extremely tightly contested regional. Triad and Highland have traditionally battled it out here, but Civic Memorial has the top seed and Jerseyville is much improved. Which Highland team shows up, the one that beat Civic Memorial 1-0 or the one that lost to Civic Memorial 14-4? Highland is led by Grant Geppert (.411, eight doubles, 29 RBIs) and Eastern Illinois recruit Joe Duncan (.404, nine doubles, two homers, 23 RBIs). It's been a tough year for Triad, but the Knights' winning tradition always makes them a threat. Jerseyville's offense can be scary led by Kyle Obertino (.378, seven doubles, three triples, 25 RBIs) and Jake Varble (.352, 20 doubles, three triples, four homers, 37 RBIs, 38 runs). Jansen Helmkamp (.449, eight doubles, three homers, 21 RBIs), Cory Howard (.378, eight doubles 17 RBIs) and Ben Walker (.363, four doubles, four triples, three homers, 24 RBIs) pace the Civic Memorial offense. The Eagles' top pitcher is Brett Beckham (6-2, 2.75 ERA).

-- Norm Sanders

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