Prep Baseball Report

Top-10 Stories of 2022: No. 2 Edwardsville Captures 4A State Title

By: Diego Solares
Area Scout, Illinois & Missouri

In early June of this year, the Edwardsville Tigers captured their second state championship under head coach Tim Funkhouser and the program’s fourth overall - doing so after enduring a difficult run of teams throughout the playoffs. The Tigers defeated conference foe Belleville East in the first round and took down Minooka, Plainfield North, and Brother Rice en route to a 4-3 championship defeat of Mundelein. 

Playing tough opponents isn’t anything new for the Tigers, however. Throughout the regular season, Edwardsville drew one of the state’s toughest schedules, playing talented teams like Huntley, St. Charles North, Lincoln-Way East, Columbia, O’Fallon, Freeburg, Glenwood, and the aforementioned Belleville East. Coach Funkhouser’s squad dipped into Missouri as well, playing and defeating three elite teams in the MSHSAA - Francis Howell, Liberty, and Missouri state champion Liberty North.

As battle tested as anyone, the Tigers relied heavily on two seniors throughout their historic run: C Grant Huebner (2022; St. Charles CC) and 3B/RHP Spencer Stearns (2022; Southern Illinois - Edwardsville). Aside from captaining their team behind the dish as an elite defensive backstop, Huebner batted .414 on the season and brought home 38 runs with 14 extra-base hits. Stearns paced the Tigers in nearly every offensive category, including a .465 batting average, 45 RBIs, and 21 extra-base knocks. He also served as the team’s anchor on the mound, pitching to a perfect 11-0 record with a 0.79 ERA and 78 strikeouts across 62 innings.

Besides those two, the Tigers did get key contributions from other seniors. RHP Gannon Burns (2022; Saint Xavier) paired up with Stearns to form a highly productive one-two punch, posting a 2.29 ERA across 52 frames on the hill. OF Adam Powell (2022) stepped up in key moments throughout the playoffs, while Cole Hardy (2022) and Jacoby Roberson (2022) each produced at the plate when given opportunities throughout the season. 

Complimenting their senior bunch, the Tigers return a plethora of names that each heavily contributed to winning this state title. 1B Riley Iffrig (Indiana State) continued to prove his status as a top left-handed bat in the Illinois’ 2023 class, regularly producing in the middle of this order and finishing the year batting .423. OF Caeleb Copeland (2023; St. Charles CC) was one of this team’s best bats, batting .416 with 27 RBIs in his junior season. Up the middle, INF Kayden Jennings (2023; Illinois-Springfield) and INF Cole Funkhouser (2023; Central Missouri) make up arguably the state’s most sure-handed defensive duo while adding even more value at the plate. And, on the mound, the duo of RHP Alec Marchetto (2024) and RHP Joseph Chiarodo (2025; Alabama) each took on key roles down the stretch as underclassmen. 

We had the opportunity to reflect on Edwardsville’s championship season with Coach Funkhouser as the year winds down. Our brief exchange, found here: 

Question: You've captured two of the last three state titles - what are some differences between the 2019 team and this most recent club?

Answer: There are probably a lot more similarities than differences.  The appreciation to be in the "arena" of competition and enjoying that opportunity was something prevalent in both teams. Each team had pitching depth, solid defense and multiple ways of influencing a game offensively. In 2022, we had to deal with more adversity (injuries) in the postseason. Our starting SS Kayden Jennings was unavailable or limited in half our games. RF Caeleb Copeland (#4 hitter) was limited to one at bat in the semifinal and did not play in the finals due to a hamstring injury. LF Jacoby Roberson also missed the entire regional due to an ankle injury which lingered after that as well. The group did not flinch and just stayed focused on what they could do to help the team.     

Q: Your path to the state championship wasn't an easy one, having to go through Belleville East, Plainfield North, Brother Rice, and eventually Mundelein. Talk about what it was like to play that level of competition on the highest stage, and if your tough regular season schedule prepared your team for those games.

A: I do feel like our guys really enjoy playing the best competition throughout the season to see where they stand.  It exposes areas we need to improve on throughout the season, helps sharpen focus in practice and allows them to feel more confident in the so called "big game".  The Southwestern Conference is always good.  Our guys really enjoyed the MEKOC powered by Prep Baseball Report to open the season as well as our own tournament in May.  We ended up playing Liberty North (Missouri 6A State Champion), Francis Howell (Missouri 6A 3rd Champion) and Chatham Glenwood (IL 3A Runner-Up) as well as multiple other quality non-conference opponents.

Q: There were several seniors that played key roles in last year's title run - Grant Huebner, Spencer Stearns, Gannon Burns, Adam Powell, etc. Talk about what the impression they left on your program in their time as Tigers

A: These guys always grew up playing together...Grant and Gannon both had brothers that played on our '19 team, which I believe helped create a vision for them as well as our team. They impacted the guys on our team daily and that will also be felt this year. Grant Huebner and Spencer Stearns provided a sense of energy and confidence the way they approached each practice/game. Gannon, Adam and other seniors maximized their abilities on a daily basis. Adam struggled with his own confidence at the beginning of the year after a return from his second labrum tear.  He ended up batting clean-up in our championship game, hitting an opposite field home run as well as another RBI later. This is a great example of overcoming obstacles and will help our players continue to trust the process.

Q: How does it feel to have now won a state title with both of your sons?

A: I have really enjoyed the ability to coach Evan and Cole. I believe each year our team has a vision of trying to get to the state tournament, but for them to be fortunate to both be state champions is something special. My hope is the confidence from these achievements will aid in all facets of their life.

Q: Give us a brief preview into this year's upcoming team as you guys look to repeat as state champions

A: I am enjoying our time in the weight room with our guys right now. I look forward to seeing the growth when the season rolls around and going through practice/games.  We will not approach it as trying to repeat, but simply just trying to get better daily and grow together as a team. It helps that our guys will be able to carry the experiences of last year into our new season, but ultimately we will have multiple guys that will see their role expand which will be fun for them.

We were able to cover Edwardsville’s victory in person, and below you’ll find our game recap from that special day: 


Sun June 12, 2022
By: Peter Hamot
Area Scout, Staff Writer 

Edwardsville and Mundelein faced off in the nightcap at Duly Health and Care Field Saturday evening to decide the Class 4A State Champion. In a back and forth affair, it was Edwardsville who came out on top by the score of 4-3 to claim their fourth State Title in school history and Tim Funkhouser's second as head coach of the Tigers. 

The Tigers headed into the top of the seventh inning in dire need of a run, as they were chasing one with the State Title on the line. With uncommitted senior Spencer Stearns leading off and the heart of the order due up after, it seemed as though we were about to witness some IHSA magic. Stearns, a catalyst for the Tigers all season long, stepped in and blasted a shot deep to center-field for a lead-off double to put the tying run in scoring position early. Indiana State commit Riley Iffrig (2023) then came up and put a ball hard on the ground up the middle, placing men on the corners with nobody out.

Montrez West (2023) would come in to pinch-run for Iffrig and steal second soon after his entrance to put another man in scoring position. Adam Powell (2022) then stepped in and laced a ball up the middle, plating Stearns and tying the game at three runs apiece. Cade Hardy (2022) was the next man up and he proceeded to fly out to left, though deep enough to bring home West and give the Tigers a 4-3 lead and an eventual State Title. 

Mundelein was facing a 2-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the fifth inning and were looking to get the offense rolling. Chris Callas (2023) came to the plate with one out and would start things off for the Mustangs by reaching on an error to the left-side of the infield. Wisconsin-Eau Claire commit Jacob Buysse (2022) would follow Callas with a single to left, putting men on first and second with one away. A walk to fellow Wisconsin-Eau Claire commit Connor Weik (2022) would load the bases for the Mustangs and set up Daniel Connelly (2023) - who went on to rip a double to left-field and tie the game at two runs apiece. Michael Farina (2023) would then come up and deliver a fielder’s choice to plate Weik and give the Mustangs a 3-2 lead at the time. 

The bats were quiet on both sides for most of the game, that was until Adam Powell (2022) stepped in and drove an opposite-field shot over the wall in left for a two-run homer - driving in St. Charles CC commit Grant Huebner (2022) who walked earlier in the frame and giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead at the time. 

One of the biggest plays of the game came early in the bottom of the first inning, with Cade Hardy (Edwardsville) delivering a strike to home from center-field on an errant back-pick attempt to second, gunning down what would have been the first run of the game. 

Right-hander and St. Xavier commit Gannon Burns (2022) got the nod for the Tigers, as he has been one of their most reliable arms all season long. With the State Title on the line, Burns turned in perhaps his gutsiest performance of the year; firing a complete game while scattering five hits, allowing two earned runs, striking out five and walking three - also going 2-for-2 with a walk at the plate. 

Notable Performances:
Adam Powell (Edwardsville): 2-for-4, HR, 3RBI, R
Gannon Burns (Edwardsville): 7IP, 5H, 2ER, 5K, 3BB - 2-for-2
Daniel Connelly (Mundelein): 1-for-2, 2B, 2RBI, BB
Michael Farina (Mundelein): 1-for-3, 2B, RBI
Tommy Stricklin (Mundelein): 2-for-3, 2 2B
Cade Hardy (Edwardsville): 1-for-3, RBI
Spencer Stearns (Edwardsville): 1-for-4, 2B
Caden Morton (Mundelein): 5IP, 3H, 2ER, 7K, 6BB

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