BELLEVILLE — The Belleville East Lancers proved once again on Monday that winning ugly sometimes isn't all that bad.
East senior Nathan Schmittling lined a two-out single in the eighth inning to score the winning run as the Lancers recorded a hard-earned 4-3 win over Freeburg in a nonconference baseball game.
Held in check by Midgets starter Dylan Demond for seven innings, East (6-3) won it in the eighth off reliever Corey Miller.
Junior Parker Hendricks lined a one-out single but was forced at second when Lucas Weisbrodt reached on a fielder's choice.
Miller then uncorked a wild pitch allowing the runner to move up a base and Schmittling followed two pitches later when he lined a 1-2 delivery to leftfield to score the winning run.
For the Lancers, who made seven errors, to win a game they probably shouldn't have won was one they'll take.
"It wasn't well played. The ball was bouncing all over the place. But I'm pleased at how we kept battling today," East coach Todd Blomberg said. "We just stayed in there until we got the chance in the eighth inning and we executed and got the big hit to win it.''
Freeburg (7-5), getting a brilliant seven-inning effort from Demond, trailed 3-2 late but tied the game in the sixth inning on two singles and two Lancers errors.
But after throwing 95 pitches on a cool spring day, Demond was taken out by Midgets coach Drew Gericke before the start of the eighth inning.
"I was going to let him (Demond) pitch to one more hitter, but then I thought better of it. Dylan had thrown a lot of pitches (95) and I didn't want to take any chances. He pitched very well tonight,'' Gericke said. "I just told the team that we had some chances where we didn't get the big hit. But I was pleased with our effort.
"East has probably 2,500 more students then we do and I thought we battled hard.
The Lancers scored first with a run in the second inning as Marty Brunk doubled to lead off and scored late on an RBI ground out by Weisbrodt.
But in the Midgets third inning, the Lancers defense began to crack.
Starting pitcher Anthony Garza committed the first two of his four errors on back-to-back plays and after both runners moved up a base, Garza walked leadoff hitter Derrick Rozycke to load the bases.
James Hogan then attempted a suicide squeeze bunt but was called out for stepping on the plate. Garza then retired Chris Smith to end the threat.
"I didn't see if he (Hogan) stepped on the plate or not. Gericke said. "But I did think it was a late call by the umpire.''
East made it 2-0 in the third on singles by Dean Gerros and Domonic Blaylock and an RBI ground out by Danny Snyder.
Freeburg (7-5) tied the game at 2 in the fourth inning, thanks once again to a pair of errors by the Lancers. With runners on first and third with one out, Jake Homann laid down a perfect squeeze bunt which scored Nick Yung.
Yung had reached on a suicide squeeze. Homann reached first when Garza couldn't pick up the ball and was charged with his third error.
"Anthony pitched very well. He just couldn't pick the ball up tonight,'' Blomberg said."Normally we're solid on defense. The ball took some bad bounces tonight.''
C.J. Nickel tied the game later in the fourth inning with a run scoring single.
A bases loaded walk to Brandon Hoguet in the fifth inning put East back up 3-2 before Freeburg tied it in the sixth.
Garza worked six innings before Austin Wilson pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Marty Brunk retired the Midgets in the eighth inning to pick up the win.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org