Belleville Hilgards begin quest for Firecracker Tournament championship

Fresh off a stretch of playing 12 games in eight days the Hilgards open up play in the Belleville pool when they take on Jefferson City, Mo.. at 10 a.m. Saturday in the first of five opening day games at Whitey Herzog Field.

Belleville (19-6) went 10-2 in the 12 game stretch, with the only losses coming against New Baden and the Metro-East Bears. The brutal schedule of games, although difficult on manager Jonathan Schweppe’s pitching staff, has the Hilgards poised and ready for not only this weekend, but also the upcoming postseason.

“It was a tough stretch and all but three of the players on our roster have been on the mound for us at one time or another this season,” Schweppe said. “It’s been tough but I think it’s prepared us for not only this weekend but playing so many games in a short period of time once the playoffs begin.”

Plagued by rain the last two years, the Metro East Firecracker Tournament is being played at three sites this weekend — Jerseyville, Moody Park in Fairview Heights, and Whitey Herzog Field in Belleville.

Valmeyer, featuring many players from its high school team that placed second in the Class 1A State Tournament this Spring, headlines the Jerseyville pool which also includes Jerseyville, Quincy, Eureka, Mo. and St. Charles, Mo.

While the Hilgards-Jefferson City, Mo. opens play at Whitey Herzog Field on Saturday, also competing in Belleville are Alton, Festus, Mo and Morgantown, W.Va. The Metro-East Bears, featuring many players from the Edwardsville High School team that placed second in the Class 4A State Tournament, lead the field at the Fairview Heights site along with Aviston, Ballwin Mo. Jackson, Mo. and a second entry from Belleville.

There will be five games at each site both Saturday and Sunday with the first games beginning at 10 a.m. The three pool winners and a fourth ‘wild card’ team will advance to the semi-fimals at Whitey Herzog Field at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday. The two winners play for the championship at 3 p.m.

At a glance

Here is what you need to know about the 2017 Metro East Firecracker Tournament from July 1-3:

July 1 schedule at Jerseyville

  • Jerseyville vs. Valmeyer, 10 a.m.
  • Valmeyer vs. Quincy, 12:30 p.m.
  • Quincy vs. St. Charles, 3 p.m.
  • St. Charles vs. Eureka, 5:30 p.m.
  • Eureka vs. Jerseyville, 7:30 p.m.

July 1 schedule at Belleville (Whitey Herzog Field)

  • Belleville vs. Jefferson City, 10 a.m.
  • Jefferson City vs. Festus, 12:30 p.m.
  • Festus vs. Alton, 3 p.m.
  • Alton vs. Morgantown, 5:30 p.m.
  • Morgantown vs. Belleville, 7:30 p.m.

July 1 schedule at Fairview Heights (Moody Park)

  • Bears vs. Aviston, 10 a.m.
  • Aviston vs. Jackson, 12:30 p.m.
  • Jackson vs. Ballwin, 3 p.m.
  • Ballwin vs. Belleville 2, 5:30 p.m.
  • Belleville 2 vs. Bears, 7:30 p.m.

July 2 schedule at Jerseyville

  • Jerseyville vs. St. Charles, 10 a.m.
  • St. Charles vs. Valmeyer, 12:30 p.m.
  • Valmeyer vs. Eureka, 3 p.m.
  • Eureka vs. Quincy, 5:30 p.m.
  • Quincy vs. Jerseyville, 7:30 p.m.

July 2 schedule at Belleville

  • Belleville vs. Alton, 10 a.m.
  • Alton vs. Jefferson City, 12:30 p.m.
  • Jefferson City vs. Morgantown, 3 p.m.
  • Morgantown vs. Festus, 5:30 p.m.
  • Belleville vs. Festus, 7:30 p.m.

July 2 at Fairview Heights

  • Bears vs. Ballwin, 10 a.m.
  • Ballwin vs. Aviston, 12:30 p.m.
  • Aviston vs. Belleville 2, 3 p.m.
  • Belleville 2 vs. Jackson, 5:30 p.m.
  • Jackson vs. Bears, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 semifinals at Belleville (Whitey Herzog Field)

  • Jerseyville Pool winner vs. Belleville Pool Winner, 10 a.m.
  • Fairview Heights Pool Winner vs. Wild Card Winner, 1 p.m.
  • Title Game, 3 p.m.