Illinois American League teams no match for Edwardsville Bears
The Edwardsville Bears chewed up the state's American League competition this year, claiming district, division and state titles on their way to the regional tournament.
The Bears season ended in early August at the American Legion Great Lakes Regional tournament when they fell to Michigan, which ended up winning the tourney, and Indiana in the consolation bracket.
This was the team’s fourth year of play and the third time it has made it to the regional tournament. The Bears consist of players from Edwardsville, Alton, Bethalto, Bunker Hill and Gillespie. American Legion teams are made up of amateur players between the ages of 13 and 19.
Before advancing to the regional tournament, Edwardsville defeated Danville 8-1 to win the Illinois state title.
Some of the key pieces to the Bears' season included Edwardsville High School players Kade Burns, Dylan Burris and Will Messer. The three joined the team after its first 12 games, when the Bears were 8-4. The team lost only six more games afterward on their way to 42 wins. Last year, the Bears won 20.
The Bears finished the year with a team batting average of .341 and averaged of nine runs per game. Blake Vandiver led the Bears with a team-high .473 batting average, 42 RBIs and 13 doubles.
Burris also was an offensive threat, with a .325 batting average and nine stolen bases. As a pitcher, Burris went 7-1, throwing in 52 innings and recording 46 strikeouts.
Burns hit .352 and racked up 28 RBIs.
McHenry Community College player Cole Hansel was also key, batting.336 and recording 30 RBIs.
On defense, were led by pitcher Storm Coffman of Bunker Hill, who finished with a 1.25 ERA and a 9-3 record.
Edwardsville finished the year with a cumulative team ERA of 1.97.