BREESE — On a sunny spring afternoon when pitchers dominated the scene, Mater Dei's Adam Richter found a way to get one ball out of the park.
The senior shortstop hit a solo homer in the fifth inning Monday, lifting the Knights to a 1-0 victory over rival Central at the Class 2A Althoff Regional.
"One swing of the bat and we move on," said Mater Dei coach Marvin Eversgerd, whose 12-9 squad will take on top-seeded Wesclin (20-7) in a 4 p.m. semifinal game Wednesday at Whitey Herzog Field in Belleville. "If we have a guy that's likely, or has a chance to hit a home run, he's the one. Other guys are more or else line-drive, extra-base hitters. If any guy can touch one and hit one, he's probably there.
"That's the guy."
Central coach Kevin Crask heaped praise on Mater Dei starter Mitchell Langenhorst and his own senior, Luke Jackson, after the tough defeat.
"It was a curveball that was supposed to be on the inside, it just didn't make it all the way there," Crask said of the pitch Richter hit for his second homer this season. "Give credit to Richter, he was able to locate it and did what he was supposed to do with it."
Langenhorst (4-2), a senior left-hander, tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings before going over 100 pitches. Reliever Jared Keilbach recorded the final two outs.
"(Langenhorst) was a little bit tired he said, but he wanted to go," Eversgerd said, noting his senior had lost a bit of velocity from his fastball. "The kid that came in (Keilbach) pitched really good against the Central lineup over at the Grizzlies (stadium) last Monday, so we decided to take a chance."
Mater Dei, now 8-3 in its last 11 games, beat Central 5-4 last Monday at GCS Ballpark in Sauget.
Jackson (2-4) was equally tough on the mound, holding Mater Dei to six hits while striking out seven and stranding seven.
"Over the last two years I could probably name one or two games where he's thrown and I've seen him struggle," Crask said of Jackson. "Today he did everything he possibly could to get that win. The kid's put up some phenomenal stats. He's walked a few, struck out many and I think he deserves to play college ball somewhere."
Langenhorst held Central to one hit in the first five innings, but four walks kept the Cougars threatening.
Central had runners at second in the second, third and fifth inning and two on in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
Each time. Langenhorst and the Mater Dei defense found a way to end the threat.
"That's been the story all year," Crask said of his team's run-producing struggles. "We get that guy on second base, even if it's with one out, two outs, and we just can't get him around. We can't get that one big hit."
Eversgerd was pleased with the combination of pitching and defense.
"We've been harping on them since day one that you don't have to make diving tremendous plays out there, you've got to make ones right at you," Eversgerd said. "Defense is so important."
So was keeping Central's top two hitters off base, Justin Becker and Kellen Lake. Becker reached once on an error and Lake walked once, but neither had a stolen base.
"Those two guys are their catalysts," Eversgerd said. "Becker creates pressure on the defense when he gets on and we kept him off base. That was a key."
In the sixth, Central threatened with two-out singles by Joey Dormeier and Dakota Auer before Langenhorst retired Brandon Richter on a groundout to first.
Keilbach issued a two-out walk in the seventh before Luis Perez flied out to end the game.
Althoff 14, Dupo 0
Althoff senior Bryce Richter held Dupo to two hits in four innings of work Monday and struck out seven and Cole Reichert had three RBIs as the Crusaders advanced to the semifinals.
Althoff (13-14) will face Carlyle (22-7) in the regional at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Belleville's Whitey Herzog Field.
Reichert was 2-for-2 with a double and three RBIs while Grant Strieker was 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs. Luke Frazier and Jack Weilmuenster also drove in two apiece for the Crusaders, who had a 5-0 lead when they broke the game open with a nine-run fourth inning.