O'FALLON — After Brendan DePoy's blast off the top of the wall nearly won the game for Columbia, teammate Austin Floarke got the job done with some small ball.
Floarke got a bases-loaded squeeze bunt down Tuesday to give the Eagles a 2-1 high school baseball victory over the O'Fallon Panthers.
"It's difficult, but you've just got to get it down wherever it's at and put it in fair territory to give yourself a chance," said Floarke, who got the bunt down on a knee-high fastball from O'Fallon right-hander Tyler Herbert. "I just got my barrel out there and put it in play."
With the game tied 1-1, DePoy led off the bottom of the seventh with a drive that hit the top of the fence in left and bounced back toward O'Fallon outfielder Robert Guithues.
DePoy ended up on second with a double. The Panthers (1-3) walked Cole Mallinckrodt intentionally and a low throw to third on Camren Shewfelt's bunt loaded the bases with no outs.
Brock Johns' fly ball to right wasn't deep enough to chase home the runner from third. That brought up Floarke, who had driven in Columbia's only previous run with a two-out RBI single in the second.
Floarke got an 0-1 fastball and bunted it back to the pitcher, scoring the winning run as Columbia (3-0) beat O'Fallon for the second straight year.
"I had faith in him the whole time, I was just hoping he'd get a strike on the 0-1 pitch," Columbia coach Keith Jany said. "He got a strike and he got it down."
The game was moved from Columbia to O'Fallon to take advantage of better field conditions and the pitchers were firmly in command on a cold afternoon.
Columbia junior lefty Josh Fleming scattered five hits, striking out four while walking only one.
"We did have some high expectations for him this year," Jany said. "But going up against a team like O'Fallon we were kind of throwing him into the fire a little bit. He was slated as (our) No. 4 when the season started, but he could be No. 1 right now after that outing. He threw a great game."
Jany got no argument from O'Fallon coach Jason Portz.
"I thought their guy did a good job of pitching our kids away and mixing both sides of the plate," Portz said. "He was able to throw those right-handers in to keep him from diving out over the plate. He froze our guys in a couple situations."
Herbert was just as solid on the mound for O'Fallon. He held Columbia to three hits and one run heading into the seventh and hadn't allowed a hit since the third inning.
"A lot of teams around here are a little bit behind with the weather and not being able to get out," Jany said. "Both pitchers threw great games; the hitters looked like they were still a little bit behind and trying to get there."
O'Fallon got its lone run in the second on a single by Tanner Hudson and RBI double by Brenndon Tindall. Columbia tied it in the second on the hit by Floarke after Johns bunted Camren Shewfelt to second with two outs.
After scoring its run, O'Fallon had three runners at third and two more at second the rest of the way and was unable to drive them in.
"We've got to be a little bit tougher with two strikes," Portz said. "Some of our young guys and new guys are pressing a bit and that's just something that's going to come with time. I feel like we competed a little bit better today and we certainly played better defense than what we played over the weekend."