After allowing Smithton to tie the game Sunday, Belleville Hilgards pitcher Aaron Meyer found a way to pay back his teammates.
Meyer's RBI double in the seventh inning proved to be the difference as Belleville hung on for a 4-3 American Legion Baseball District 22 South Division playoff victory.
"That's huge, it says a lot about him," said Belleville manager Zach Rakowski, whose 34-11 club plays Fairview Heights in a winners' bracket game at 8 p.m. Monday at Whitey Herzog Field.
Meyer was 3-for-3 on the day and also pitched well, allowing six hits and three runs over 6 1/3 innings before relievers Ian Zimmermann and Caleb Tatum managed to slam the door shut.
"Ian pitched really well coming in as a reliever and just attacking guys," Rakowski said. "It's a good change of pace."
Sam Lidisky, Tatum and Austin Bevenue all had two hits for the Hilgards against Smithton starter Austin Bartle, a recent Belleville East graduate headed for St. Joseph's University in Indiana.
"He did a really good job, got out of some tough spots and made good pitches," Rakowski said of Bartle, who struck out eight and scattered 10 hits, allowing four runs. "That's what you need from your pitchers in the playoffs."
In the decisive seventh inning, Bevenue reached after being hit by a pitch. Alex Heitzman walked before a one-out double by Meyer drove in Bevenue with the winning run.
"We got 10 hits, so we did a lot of good things offensively and our pitchers did a good job," Rakowski said. "We just need to stay focused and stay aggressive."
Belleville also scored twice in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Atlee Champion and an RBI single by Bevenue.
James Simms was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs for Smithton.
Fairview Heights 29, Glen Carbon 7
Danny Hughes homered twice and collected five RBIs while Aarom Krummrich and Sam Hopkins picked up four hits and four RBIs each Sunday as Fairview Heights slammed Glen Carbon in another first-round game.
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.