Prep Baseball & Softball

Major showcase event with 21 teams hits metro-east this week

O’Fallon infielder and Missouri State recruit Josh Gibson throws to first while attempting a double play last season.
O’Fallon infielder and Missouri State recruit Josh Gibson throws to first while attempting a double play last season.

A high school baseball event so big it requires three locations, including the Gateway Grizzlies’ GCS Ballpark in Sauget, is bringing some of the top teams and players in the Midwest to the metro-east.

The inaugural Prep Baseball Report Metro-East Kickoff Classic begins Thursday and features 21 teams from Illinois and Missouri playing against each other during the three-day event. Along with GCS Ballpark in Sauget, the other sites are Blazier Field in O’Fallon and Tom Pile Field at the Edwardsville Sports Complex.

“We were getting a lot of teams down here for different events, whether it was this weekend or other weekends in April,” said O’Fallon coach Jason Portz, one of the event organizers along with Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser. “We just finally said let’s push this to be a first-class baseball event instead of just hosting a round-robin at our places. We wanted to bring GCS Ballpark into the mix, which is one of the finest independent league facilities and it’s right in our backyard.

“I think it’s going to be a great event.”

The list of participating teams include Chicago area schools Plainfield South, Joliet Catholic and Oak Forest plus Chatham Glenwood and Mount Zion from central Illinois. St. Louis University High and Marquette are representing St. Louis while Mount Vernon, Benton, Harrisburg and Carbondale are also participating.

Metro-east teams include Belleville East, O’Fallon, Edwardsville, Columbia, Alton and Civic Memorial.

“Next year we hope to bring Saint Louis University and SIU Edwardsville into this as (host sites) and to get even more teams involved in it,” Portz said. “We feel like this is a hotbed for baseball and if we hit the weather right it can be a really great event. We’ve seen other great events around here like the football showcase at East St. Louis and basketball shootouts at O’Fallon and Highland.

“There hasn’t been something that’s been put together in baseball. I think it’s important we do the best we can to showcase our kids in this sport as well.”

Portz also cited the event’s top sponsor, the Prep Baseball Report website, for being instrumental is helping bring the event to the metro-east. The website ranks top teams and players in numerous states throughout the country, but began in Illinois.

All three sites have artificial turf fields (the junior varsity field at Edwardsville; the varsity field is grass), which adds to the event’s flexibility in case of rain or bad weather.

Metro-east baseball fans will have their choice of games and venues. They also get a chance to see some of the top senior and underclass prospects in the state.

Among the top players competing in the event include Prep Baseball Report’s No. 1 recruit in Illinois, Plainfield South senior right-hander and Kentucky recruit Austin Marozas.

The loaded Plainfield South pitching rotation includes two more senior aces in Missouri recruit Konnor Ash and Western Illinois recruit Jordan Mikel. Oak Forest boasts senior pitcher and Murray State recruit Jake Jones.

Valmeyer fans will remember the state’s No. 4-rated recruit, Louisville recruit and Chatham Glenwood left-handed pitcher Reid Detmers. Detmers was playing for Nokomis last spring, the team that Valmeyer beat to reach the sectional final.

Chatham Glenwood junior right-hander Jacob Maton is committed to D-1 Coastal Carolina.

Another highly-rated senior pitcher participating is Joliet Catholic left-hander Antonio Soldana (Iowa Western Community College). Civic Memorial pitcher-outfielder Corey Price is headed to Central Missouri along with Edwardsville infielder Kade Burns, while Edwardsville outfielder Dylan Burris signed with Wabash Valley.

Among the top underclassmen participating are Belleville East junior left-hander Ben Cruikshank (Missouri State), O’Fallon sophomore shortstop Josh Gibson (Missouri State), Joliet Catholic junior pitcher Aidan Tyrell (Notre Dame) and Moline sophomore shortstop Brody Harding (Illinois).

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

Prep Baseball Report Metro-East Kickoff Classic

Thursday, March 16

at GCS Ballpark, Sauget

  • Alton vs. Carbondale, 1 p.m.
  • Belleville East vs. Columbia, 4 p.m.
  • O’Fallon vs. Chatham Glenwood, 7 p.m.

at Blazier Field, O’Fallon

  • Benton vs. Salem, 4 p.m.

at Tom Pile Field, Edwardsville

  • Civic Memorial vs. Mount Vernon, 4 p.m.

Friday, March 17

at GCS Ballpark, Sauget

  • Mount Zion vs. Plainfield South, 1 p.m.
  • Joliet Catholic vs. Chatham Glenwood, 4 p.m.
  • Joliet Catholic vs. Normal West, 7 p.m.

at Blazier Field, O’Fallon

  • O’Fallon vs. Moline, 4 p.m.
  • Harrisburg vs. Niles Notre Dame, 7 p.m.

at Tom Pile Field, Edwardsville

  • Civic Memorial vs. Belleville East, 4 p.m.
  • Edwardsville vs. Plainfield South, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 18

at GCS Ballpark, Sauget

  • Niles Notre Dame vs. Oak Forest, 9 a.m.
  • Harrisburg vs. St. Louis U. High, 11 a.m.
  • Marquette St. Louis vs. Moline, 2 p.m.
  • O’Fallon vs. Joliet Catholic, 4 p.m.

at Blazier Field, O’Fallon

  • Plainfield South vs. Marquette St. Louis, 9 a.m.
  • Normal West vs. Niles Notre Dame, 2 p.m.
  • Normal West vs. Oak Forest, 4 p.m.

at Tom Pile Field, Edwardsville

  • Joliet Catholic vs. Edwardsville, 11 a.m.