Metro East Bears claim American Legion state championship

Isaac Garrett allowed just four hits in eight innings as the Metro East Bears captured their first American Legion state tournament title since 2013 with an 8-1 win over Danville on Saturday at Wabash Park in Rantoul.

Garrett allowed a run-scoring single to Noah Nelson in the bottom of the first inning, then silenced the hard-hitting Danville lineup on just two hits over the next seven innings. Meanwhile, the Bears (40-8) collected 13 hits against a pair of Danville hurlers as they advanced to the Great Lakes Regional.

The Bears will face Rockport (Ind.) in a first-round game at the eight-team event, which begins Wednesday in Napoleon, Ohio. Danville, the 2016 state champion, also advances to the Great Lakes Regional as Illinois’ second bid.

“It feels great to win the state championship,” Bears manager Ken Schaake said. “Isaac Garrett went out and pitched great for eight innings before Zach Seavers came in and pitched the ninth. If you would have told me we would hold Danville to one run today, I wouldn’t have believed it. We played them three times, and the last two they had scored six and five runs.

“Offensively, we had four different players come out and get two out hits for us today. It’s great to have that kind of balance.”

The Bears took the lead for good in the top of the third inning. Joel Quirin broke a 1-1 tie with a single, then scored on a double by Blake Vandiver. One out later, Steven Pattan completed the three-run outburst with a run-scoring single.

The three-run lead was all Garrett would need. He struck out three and walked two in his 120-pitch outing.