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New (Three-Class) Era In IESA Boys Baseball Begins This Weekend

A new era in Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) boys baseball begins this weekend at EastSide Centre in East Peoria. For the first time ever, IESA will crown boys baseball state champions in three classes.

"We're going to see a World Series atmosphere at the EastSide Centre," observed Executive Director Steve Endsley. "The three-class state series has allowed many teams to be in a position to advance to their respective class state final tournament. Their communities are enthusiastic about their team's chances. We'll have three games being played on three diamonds at the same time all day Friday and Saturday. If you are a baseball fan, it doesn't get much better than this."

Only five of the 16 teams in last year's two-class state final event return this year. None are in Class 1A. One -- Bloomington Holy Trinity -- returns this year in Class 2A. Four of last year's Class AA field return in Class 3A -- Minooka, Danville North Ridge, Effingham JHS and East Peoria Central. There are eight schools making their first appearance of any kind in the IESA Boys State Baseball Tournament. They are: Class 1A -- Donovan, Springfield Christian, Joliet St. Paul, Lincoln West Lincoln Broadwell; Class 2A -- Tremont, Lockport Kelvin Grove, Danville Oakwood; Class 3A -- Romeoville Martinez.

East Peoria Central is by far the leader in all-time appearances among this year's 24 teams. The Wildcats are playing in their 18th state final and were single-class state champions six times (1981-82-83-84-85-86) and Class AA state champions three times (1991-92-95).

Four quarterfinal games in Class 1A, Class 2A and Class 3A will be played Friday beginning at 10:00 a.m. Quarterfinal games are scheduled for 10:00 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. The winners Friday come back for semifinals at 10:00 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Saturday. Third place games are set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday with the championship games scheduled for 4:45 p.m.

Class 1A games will be played on Diamond No. 8. Class 2A games will be played on Diamond No. 9. Class 3A games will be played on Diamond 7. Admission each day will be $5.00 for adults and students in high school. For seniors and students in grades K-8, admission will be $2.00. On Saturday, fans will purchase wristbands at $5.00 and $2.00, respectively, and use them for admission all day.

The IESA boys baseball state tournament series was a single-class affair from 1955-1989, when the state series was divided into Class A and Class AA competition. The two-class series ran for 16 years from 1990-2005. The three-class format was launched this year. This year a total of 253 schools entered IESA boys baseball. The breakdown of schools per class was 85 in Class 1A, 84 in Class 2A and 84 in Class 3A. The enrollment range by class was: Class 1A at 1-94, Class 2A at 95-181 and Class 3A at 182-above. IESA enrollments are the seventh and eighth graders in the member school.

The all-time records in boys baseball carry over. The Class A and Class AA records have been retired. Records in Class 1A, Class 2A and Class 3A all will be new this year.

Here is a look at the 2006 State Final Tournament in each class:

Class 1A

(Records correct as reported 9/27/06.)

Unbeaten Joliet St. Paul (20-0) heads a field of eight teams with a combined won-loss record of 120-17, a sizzling winning percentage of .876. St. Paul is the only unbeaten in Class 1A.

The combined enrollment of the eight teams in Class 1A is 518, an average of 65 seventh and eighth graders per school. Peoria Limestone Walters is the smallest at 42, and Joliet St. Paul is the largest at 87. The others are Virginia 50, Lincoln West Lincoln-Broadwell 51, Springfield Christian 65, Catlin 71, Donovan 74 and Stewardson-Strasburg 78.

The pairings are:

Friday

10:00 a.m. -- Donovan (13-4) vs. Springfield Christian (17-4)

12:15 p.m. -- Catlin (13-1) vs. Peoria Limestone Walters (14-1)

2:30 p.m. -- Virginia (14-2) vs. Stewardson-Strasburg (13-4)

4:45 p.m. -- Joliet St. Paul (20-0) vs. Lincoln West Lincoln-Broadwell (16-1)

Saturday

10:00 a.m. -- Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (Semifinal)

12:15 p.m. -- Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (Semifinal)

2:30 p.m. -- Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6 (Third Place)

4:45 p. m. -- Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (Title)

Class 2A

(Records correct as reported 9/27/06.)

Unbeatens Bloomington Holy Trinity (16-0) and Carthage (18-0) are in opposite brackets and lead a field of eight teams with a combined won-loss record of 110-15, a blistering .880 winning percentage. Two others -- Springfield Christ The King (12-1) and Chillicothe (16-1) -- come in with only one loss. Those two are in the upper bracket with Bloomington Holy Trinity, which finished second in last year's Class A State Tournament.

The combined enrollment of the eight schools in the Class 2A field is 1,217, an average of 152. Smallest school in Class 2A is Springfield Christ The King at 105, and the largest is Danville Oakwood at 180. The others are Carthage 131, Bloomington Holy Trinity 143, Tremont 153, Sullivan 158, Lockport Kelvin Grove 169 and Chillicothe 178.

The pairings are:

Friday

10:00 a.m. -- Tremont (13-4) vs. Springfield Christ The King (12-1)

12:15 p.m. -- Bloomington Holy Trinity (16-0) vs. Chillicothe (16-1)

2:30 p.m. -- Carthage (18-0) vs. Sullivan (13-3)

4:45 p.m. -- Lockport Kelvin Grove (12-2) vs. Danville Oakwood (10-4)

Saturday

10:00 a.m. -- Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (Semifinal)

12:15 p.m. -- Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (Semifinal)

2:30 p.m. -- Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6 (Third Place)

4:45 p. m. -- Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (Title)

Class 3A

(Records correct as reported 9/27/06.)

The teams that finished 1-3-4 in last year's final Class AA State Tournament are among the eight finalists in Class 3A. Minooka (22-1) won the Class AA title last year over Stanford Olympia. Effingham JHS (19-8) beat Danville North Ridge (14-0) for third place last year and they are in opposite brackets this year. East Peoria Central (23-2) also returns from the Class AA field of 2005 and is in the lower bracket with Danville North Ridge.

The eight teams in the Class 3A field have a combined won-loss record of 138-22, a winning percentage of :863.

The combined enrollment of the eight teams in Class 3A is 3,931, an average of 491 seventh and eighth graders per school. Smallest is Pleasant Plains at 189, and the largest is Homer Glen Homer at 818. The others are Rochester 344, East Peoria Central 417, Effingham JHS 475, Danville North Ridge 524, Romeoville Martinez 574 and Minooka 590.

The pairings are:

Friday

10:00 a.m. -- Homer Glen Homer (14-4) vs. Rochester (18-2)

12:15 p.m. -- Effingham JHS (15-8) vs. Minooka (22-1)

2:30 p.m. -- Romeoville Martinez (17-3) vs. Danville North Ridge (13-0)

4:45 p.m. -- Pleasant Plains (16-2) vs. East Peoria Central (23-2)

Saturday

10:00 a.m. -- Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (Semifinal)

12:15 p.m. -- Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (Semifinal)

2:30 p.m. -- Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6 (Third Place)

4:45 p. m. -- Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (Title)



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