While the Illinois all-stars outhit their Missouri rivals 11-10 Monday at Busch Stadium, the scoreboard told a far different story.
Taking full advantage of eight walks and four wild pitches, most of which led directly to runs, Missouri delivered a 14-1 victory over Illinois at the third annual PNC Bank High School Baseball Showcase presented by Rawlings.
Maybe some of the bizarre events on the field took place because Illinois was using the same visitor's dugout once occupied by the Texas Rangers. The Rangers saw their World Series hopes shattered during the Cards' memorable comeback at Busch Stadium last October.
"It's always fun to be able to come play with a bunch of people you play with during the regular season, but you're on opposite teams," said O'Fallon shortstop Logan Reno, who was 2-for-2 with pair of singles. "Just the one inning kind of got out of hand; wild pitches, stolen bases ...they executed and we didn't, pitching-wise or defensively."
O'Fallon High standout Sam Hopkins, who threw a scoreless first inning as the Illinois starter on Monday, remembers the World Series well. He was in the left-field bleachers for Game 6 and Game 7.
"I was sitting right up there during Game 6 and Game 7, which was an absolute blast, too," Hopkins said Monday, pointing toward the bleachers as if trying to re-create the scene. "I'm kind of getting flashbacks. I walked all the way around the stadium and I was just thinking to myself 'wow.' I had a picture of the place completely filled with people."
Missouri, which has won all three all-star games over Illinois, scored nine times in the fifth inning to break open a close game. Two of those runs scored on the same wild pitch and William DuPont's two-run triple also highlighted the inning.
Missouri won the previous two games 2-0 and 8-3.
Illinois pitchers held Missouri to just two hits through four innings, but Missouri scored on a wild pitch in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Illinois took a 1-0 lead in the second on a walk to Luke Stewart, singles by John Goodrich and Logan Reno and a sacrifice fly by Joey Coonrod.
That proved to be the high-water mark on a warm, but not uncomfortable afternoon at Busch.
The metro-east contingent loaded the bases in the first and second innings and had seven hits through four, but managed only one run.
"It's nice and a little feather in their cap at the end of the year," said Triad coach Jesse Bugger, who helped coach the Illinois team along with O'Fallon High coach Jason Portz and former Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan. "It's a nice experience and a little reward for all the hard work they put in during the regular season."
And as for the crazy inning?
"It's just one of those things," Bugger said. "It's just more or less let the kids go out and play and whatever happens happens."
Belleville East's Alex Siddle tossed a scoreless sixth inning and was 1-for-3, while recent Belleville West graduate Ian Zimmermann came in to pitch the seventh buoyed by noise from his large cheering section of family and friends down the third base line.
Zimmermann allowed two unearned runs.
The Illinois squad stranded 12 runners and had another picked off.
Reno, who plans to walk on at Illinois State, was 2-for-2 and Triad catcher and McKendree recruit Dylan Johnson also had two hits. Highland catcher Aaron Kuper added a walk and a single.
"It's hard to explain, it's just a real good feeling," Kuper said when asked about the overall experience. "Especially going out there throwing and knowing Albert Pujols played here, my heroes played here, Yadier Molina's played here. David Freese plays here."
Missouri State recruit Matt Hasenbeck was impressive during the home run derby before the game, then belted a long solo homer into the left-field bleachers in the ninth inning.
Before the game, players from both teams got a chance to meet Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Matheny's son, Tate Matheny, was the starting center fielder for Missouri and also won the home-run derby.
Around the bases
Edwardsville High outfielder Derek Page won the throwing accuracy contest, showing off the powerful right arm that helped him land a scholarship to Eastern Illinois University.
Page got two of his three throws from center field to travel the full distance into a net situated at home plate. Many players missed the net entirely, even on bouncing throws.
"My strategy as just to aim for the back net and hopefully when I threw it that it would go low enough to hit that screen over there," Page explained. "I was trying to throw one in on the fly because I knew I had to to win. I tried to aim lower with my throws to get more line drive on it instead of air mailing it like some of those kids were doing."
Several metro-east teams, including Edwardsville and O'Fallon, play regular-season games at Busch Stadium after Cardinals games.
"This is a lot more relaxed, a lot more loose," Reno said. "During school season you're here for fun but you want to win and this is kind of more for the experience than actually winning."
Speaking of unforgettable experiences, Alton's Tanner Miles watched the broken barrel of his bat go flying during the home run derby.
Bugger also worked up a sweat while throwing pitches during the home run derby.
"Yeah, I'm used to that," Bugger said. "We throw till we drop at practice, so that's nothing new."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.