Edwardsville knocks off Brother Rice to win back-to-back Class 4A state titles

Saturday in Joliet, a father and son from Edwardsville shared a massive victory, beating Brother Rice 6-4 to win the Class 4A state championship.

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Edwardsville teammates react to winning the IHSA Class 4A state championship game against Brother Rice.

Edwardsville teammates react to winning the IHSA Class 4A state championship game against Brother Rice.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Fathers and sons and baseball is special. From little league to the major leagues to just catch in the yard, it has always meant something, and provided a bond.

Saturday in Joliet, a father and son from Edwardsville shared a massive victory, beating Brother Rice 6-4 to win the Class 4A state championship. But they were also locked in sync at a particular moment.

Tigers senior Cole Funkhouser led the game off with a single. His father, Tim Funkhouser, is the Edwardsville coach.

“I had a dad moment,” Funkhouser said. “I’ve almost been numb at times. For him to lead off the game and get stuff started and then have that big hit. It really hit me as a dad.”

“As I rounded first on that single I looked back and I saw him smiling and clapping and that kind of just made everything complete,” Cole Funkhouser said.

Edwardsville (33-9) jumped out to a 3-0 lead early. Brother Rice came back and made a game of it and even had the tying run at the plate with two out in the bottom of the seventh.

“We’re at a place that we’ve never been before as a program and it’s because of [the seniors],” Crusaders coach Sean McBride said. “Hopefully one of these years we will break through but I can’t say enough about the group and where we are at.”

Brother Rice (26-16) lost to Edwardsville in the state semifinals last season. The Tigers went on to beat Mundelein to win the state title. The back-to-back championships make it five state titles overall for Edwardsville.

Funkhouser had a key hit late in the game. He describes it as an almost out-of-body experience.

“I kind of stepped back and took it all in for a second,” Funkhouser said. “[Brother Rice’s] section was cheering really loud and I almost made it feel like they were cheering for me. I was so locked in. kind of knew I was gonna get a hit there and ended up delivering.”

Funkhouser will play baseball at Central Missouri next season.

“I love all our kids so much,” Tim Funkhouser said. “I tried not to coach [Cole] any different although I probably get on him a little more. I don’t know why. But I guess I won’t have the privilege of doing that anymore.”

Edwardsville, a St. Louis suburb, is a powerhouse program. The Tigers won the Class 4A state title last year and in 2019. They finished second in 2017 and won state titles in 1998 and 1990.

“This is the best possible way to end a career,” Cole Funkhouser said. “All the seniors knew coming into this game that we were going to have to give it our all and we knew it was our last game so we had to play like it was our last game.

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