O'FALLON — Trying to nail down their third straight Southwestern Conference road win Tuesday, the Belleville West Maroons finally ran into some unforgiving hosts.
In battle between two of the area's top teams, O'Fallon got an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning from Tanner Hudson that drove in Collin Holton for a 3-2 baseball victory over Belleville West.
Ranked first in the News-Democrat 3A-4A poll, the Maroons (9-4) had a chance to move to 4-0 in the conference after previous road wins over heavyweights Alton and Edwardsville.
But the third-ranked Panthers (9-6) got solid pitching from Ethan Wild, who held West hitless through 4 2/3 innings, and timely hitting to move to tie the Maroons at 3-1 in the SWC.
Belleville West fell behind, but tied it with two runs in the sixth. Senior Aaron Meyer crushed a solo homer to right that bounced onto Highway 50 before rolling to the Dairy Queen across the street.
Nick Van Osdale singled and was nearly picked off, but a throwing error got him to second base. He took third on a wild pitch and scored on Austin Bammer's two-out RBI single on a 1-2 pitch from Wild.
"Waiting until the fifth inning catches up to you," said Belleville West coach Lee Meyer, whose team didn't collect its first hit off Wild until Brendan Saak's two-out single in the fifth. "You can't do that every game. We didn't have a hit until the fifth inning and if we're going to be a good ballclub, we have to have great at-bats all the way through the game.
Holton had the best swings for O'Fallon all day and reached safely for the fourth time with a leadoff single in the seventh. He also doubled and hit a line drive to center in the second that led to the Panthers' other two runs.
" He did a good job and he hit the ball hard all day," Coach Meyer said. "He gave them the spark they need in the bottom of the seventh."
Holton went to second on a groundout and scored when Hudson found a hole between shortstop and third base for a base hit to left off West reliever Parker Beine.
"We talked on the mound and we had a base open," Coach Meyer said. "We weren't going to give in to him. (Beine) got a called strike on him and I think he felt pretty confident that he could get one by him. Give credit to (Hudson) he hit the ball where we weren't."
Holton beat the throw home and the Panthers began the celebration.
"It was a typical Belleville West-O'Fallon matchup," O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said. "I think you saw pretty good pitching and some quality at-bats. You'd be silly not to take a next-day approach in this conference, that's for sure.
"It's a tough league and I think every day out you'd better be ready to compete."
O'Fallon got two runs with two outs in the second against West starter Cory Renois. A pair of walks set the stage and West center fielder Alex Sharos couldn't handle a line drive off the bat of Holton as two runs scored.
Wild allowed only one baserunner before the fifth on a leadoff walk in the first, then doubled him off after catching a pop-fly bunt off the bat of Aaron Meyer.
"He had pretty good command of his fastball today and that was obviously the key," Portz said of Wild. "I thought the defense behind him was terrific....that's a recipe for success."
Belleville East 5, Collinsville 4 (12 innings)
After both teams agreed the 12th inning would be the last played Tuesday even if it was still tied because darkness was approaching, Belleville East pulled out a victory and forced a three-way tie for first place in the SWC.
Belleville East (7-3 overall, 3-1 in the league) loaded the bases in the bottom of the 12th inning and senior catcher Lucas Weisbrodt walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in the winning run.
"We decided even before we batted that was going to be it," Belleville East coach Todd Blomberg said. "If we didn't score, we were going to pick it up the next time we played them. Their kid had thrown Lucas a couple good pitches and Lucas fouled them off. He got ball four and we were lucky enough to come out of there with a win."
Belleville East nearly had the game won in the seventh, but a two-out error allowed the Kahoks to tie it and force extra innings.
East's Danny Snyder led off with a single in the bottom of the second and went to second on a passed ball. After a walk to Anthony Garza, Collinsville decided to walk East senior Marty Brunk to load the bases for Weisbrodt, whose walk sent everyone home on a long afternoon and early evening of baseball.
Chris Mathes and Zack Mathes were both 3-for-6 for Collinsville, which outhit Belleville East 13-10.
Garza had a squeeze bunt for the Lancers while Snyder had three hits and Brunk and Domonic Blaylock each had two. Austin Wilson threw two innings to pick up the relief win for East.
Columbia 10, Freeburg 9, 10 innings
Columbia and Freeburg also needed extra innings to settle things in their Cahokia Conference showdown and Quinten Spivey's fly ball to shallow right that glanced off the glove on an infielder pushed across two runs.
"It was crazy," said Columbia coach Keith Jany, whose team held off a furious offensive assault by the Midgets thanks in large part to two home runs and a 4-for-4 outing by Evan Dake.
Columbia's Brendan DePoy struck out on a ball in the dirt leading off the 10th, but reached safely when the tag attempt by the diving Freeburg catcher dislodged the ball.
Dake's single moved the runners and a bunt got them to second and third. Brock Johns was a hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs before Spivey's fly ball got two runs in.
Freeburg scored a run in the bottom of the 10th on a bases-loaded walk before reliever Reed Greatting struck out the final two hitters for the win.