The St. Clair 12-and-under Little League baseball team is riding a wave of momentum in its pursuit of trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“We have a lot of confidence,” pitcher and infielder Brady Gleason said after St. Clair edged Ira Township for the district title. “We battled out a good game against them in the championship game. We had to grind it out, and we did.”
Ira, a perennial power, had ended St. Clair’s season for three straight years. St. Clair finally broke the spell with 7-0 and 8-7 wins over Ira to conclude the double-elimination district tournament.
St. Clair now plays for a state title, traveling to Roosevelt Park near Muskegon to face Northeast Midland in the Pool B opener at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
The “Sweet 16,” as the state tournament, also follows a double-elimination format. The winner will advance to the Midwest regional and a possible spot in the Little League World Series at Williamsport.
“I think all we have to do is stay focused and play our game, and we should win,” pitcher and first baseman Max Gottler said. “(Winning districts) is going to help us work harder. I think we know we can beat teams now.”
While confident, St. Clair expects to face stiff opposition and knows they have to be at their best.
“The same things we did in the (district) championship game, we have to do,” said Gleason, who will pitch the opener in the state tournament. “We have to continue hitting, and we need great pitching like we have been getting.
“I love this team, and I love pitching for this team. I know I have a great team, and they have my back.”
St. Clair coach Tim Gleason expects his players will make the most of their opportunity.
“Practice has been really good,” he said. “We talked about how (Wednesday’s) practice had to be our best practice of the year. We are not just happy to get where we are going. We want to win.”