O'FALLON — Senior Ethan Wild and the O'Fallon Panthers got off on the right foot in the Southwestern Conference on Friday.
Wild threw 4 1/3 innings and Colin Holton was 2-for-3 to lead a seven-hit attack as the Panthers outlasted Belleville East 4-1 in the league opener for both teams.
The game was played at Blazier Field in O'Fallon instead of Belleville East because of wet field conditions at East.
"We played pretty well," O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said. "Your only concern is how the kids are going to handle the pressure of a conference game.
"Belleville East and O'Fallon is always a tight game, and the atmosphere at the game was consistent with what you see within our conference. There was a good crowd and a lot of intensity with the game. It was a tight ballgame. You're curious how your kids are going to respond."
Wild permitted two hits and one unearned run, with three walks and four strikeouts. Junior Tyler Herbert relieved in the fifth and recorded the final eight outs for the save as the Panthers improved to 4-4 overall and 1-0 in the SWC.
East fell to 2-2 and 1-1. The Lancers had just three hits, including two by senior Anthony Garza. They scored their only run in the fifth to make it 3-1, but O'Fallon answered with a run in its fifth.
Lancers starter Brandon Hoguet allowed four runs (earned) on seven hits in five innings, with two walks and two strikeouts.
"We executed pretty well," Portz said "Hoguet was good early. His breaking pitch was really sharp. (But) we were able to get ahead in counts and in the second inning we were able to score without the benefit of a hit."
O'Fallon took its 1-0 lead on a one-out walk by Wild. Robert Guithues ran for Wild and stole second, took third on a grounder and scored on a passed ball by catcher Lucas Weisbrodt.
The Panthers took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI single by senior Tanner Hudson and a safety squeeze by junior Blake Deatherage.
"That's the type of team we are," Portz said. "We're going to have to be able to move runners. In high-school baseball, you better be able to bunt and run and put runners in motion to be able to tack on runs against good pitchers we see in our conference."
Garza singled to lead off East's fifth before junior Dean Gerros walked. Weisbrodt then bunted through a pitch and Garza was caught between second and third, but Panthers senior catcher Brenndon Tindall threw wildly into left field, allowing Garza to score.
Jeff Hahs drove in O'Fallon's final run with a single in the fifth.
Portz was impressed with Herbert's 2 2/3 innings in relief. Herbert allowed only a seventh-inning double to Garza.
"It was a quality save," Portz said.