Metro East Bears begin play in Great Lakes Regional

The Metro East Bears open the American Legion Great Lakes Regional against Rockport, Ind., at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Mercy Field in Napoleon, Ohio.

The Bears (40-8) are in their fourth regional in the last six years. This will be the third straight regional they’ve faced Rockport.

It was Rockport which defeated the Bears in the regional title game (4-3) last year in Edwardsville.

“We eliminated them from the tournament the previous time then they beat us last year. We’re familiar with their program,” Bears manager Ken Schaake said. “But we really don’t know anything at all about the team they have this year. That’s probably good because at this stage of the season, you don’t want to start changing things. You play the way you have all year. It’s been very successful up to this point.”

Other first round games on Wednesday will feature Oshkosh, Wis. against Midland, Mich., Danville, Ill. taking on Beverly/Lowell Ohio and Eau Claire, Wis., playing Napoleon, Ohio.

The title game is at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Great Lakes Regional winner will advance to the American Legion National Tournament at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C., from Aug. 10-15.

The Bears, who won the national championship in 1998.

“We’re playing our best baseball of the season right now and this is the time you want it to happen,” Schaake said. “This team reminds me a lot of the 1998 team which won the national tournament in that these kids just go out and play. It doesn’t matter in the least to them who gets the hits or who gets the pitching victories. The individual stats don’t matter. What counts is winning. It’s all about the team with this group.”