O'Fallon moves into first place in SWC

Special to the News-DemocratApril 30, 2013 

The Edwardsville Tigers sat atop the Southwestern Conference standings by a half game over the O'Fallon Panthers heading into their game Tuesday. Afterward, it was switched.

O'Fallon jumped past Edwardsville into first place in the conference after defeating the Tigers 8-1.

O'Fallon junior starting pitcher Tyler Herbert shut down the Edwardsville offense. Herbert threw a complete game, surrendering one unearned run on six hits in seven innings. He walked three and struck out five.

"What Tyler does is he's sneaky fast," O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said. "He's a guy that's got terrific movement with his ball. Where it starts with him is his ability to throw his breaking ball for a strike and locate it. Then he's able to sneak his fastball in at times and create some soft contact. We know that's what Tyler is able to do. Tyler is a guy on our mound that can really do some things for us."

Edwardsville left seven men on base and only had one multi-hit inning, which was in the seventh when the Tigers had two hits.

"I thought the first inning our guys really hit the ball well," Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser said. "We had runners in scoring position through the first three innings, but weren't able to push it through, even there at the end of the game. Bottom line is we have to come through with runners in scoring position and we need to make plays.

"I thought (Herbert's) slider was a good pitch for him. He did a good job of elevating his fastball at times and mixing that up. We didn't do a good job on our end. It really exposed some of our guys. We have to work on that."

O'Fallon jumped out to a quick lead and didn't look back. The Panthers scored three runs in the first and third innings, which was more than enough run support for Herbert.

In the first inning, O'Fallon junior Jeff Hahs singled to right field, scoring junor Isaiah Sarpy from third base for the first run of the game. Senior Brenndon Tindall dropped down a sacrifice bunt and was thrown out at first, but junior Colin Holton was running hard and scored from second base just before the throw home. Junior Blake Deatherage hit a ground-rule double to left field, scoring Hahs from second base.

Edwardsville had the bases loaded with one out in the second inning, but could only get one run out of it. Sophomore Matthew Zielonko reached base on a throwing error by Holton and would come around to score the Tigers' lone run.

O'Fallon further increased its lead in the third inning. A wild pitch by Edwardsville senior starting pitcher Cole Hagen allowed Hahs to score from third base. Senior Tanner Hudson doubled to right field, scoring Tindall from third base, but Deatherage was thrown out at home trying to score from first. Senior Jacob Jarvis doubled to deep center to score Hudson from third base, giving O'Fallon a 6-1 lead after three innings. The Panthers would tack on a runs in the fifth and sixth innings to win 8-1.

"I feel like every phase of the game we did well tonight," Portz said. "We ran the bases well. We moved runners up. When guys came up to the plate with runners in scoring position, we were able to come up with a big hit tonight.

"I thought our hands were a little quicker. There's always kind of been a motto. As the weather warms up, the bats are going to warm up a little bit. Our kids haven't lost faith in their ability."

The loss is the first for Edwardsville after 11 straight wins. It drops the Tigers to second in the Southwestern Conference, and moves their conference record to 7-3 and overall record to 17-7.

"There's a lot to be played," Funkhouser said. "We kind of played our whole season the next game is the biggest we're going to play. We didn't perform like we'd want to, and we're going to have to be better than this to win the conference. We'll continue to push forward and make improvements."

O'Fallon leads the Southwestern Conference by a half game after defeating Edwardsville. The Panthers improve their conference record to 7-2 and overall record to 16-8.

"It's a quality win for us," Portz said. "It's our showcase win of the year. There's no doubt about that. We were just able to play well in a quality game. You like to see that going into May."

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