O'FALLON — Belleville East senior Brandon Hoguet picked an amazingly convenient time for his first varsity home run.
Hoguet's two-run shot with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday lifted Belleville East to a 5-3 semifinal victory over Belleville West at the Class 4A O'Fallon Regional.
"I made sure it was gone after I hit it because I wasn't sure, I thought it was going to go foul," Hoguet said of his shot off of West reliever Parker Beine that left the park in the right-field corner of Blazier Field. "I watched it all the way to make sure it was gone.
"It's my first varsity home run and for it to be a walkoff. ... It will be one I'll never forget. I'm just going to share it with my team because they did all they could at the end and I love it."
East (20-13) will take on giant-killer Granite City (16-20) -- which defeated top-seeded O'Fallon on Chad Spanberger's two-out grand slam in the seventh inning -- for the regional championship at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Lancers were held hitless through the first four innings by West starter Cory Renois and trailed 3-0.
East's Alec Pellegrino broke up the no-hitter with a solo homer to right-center leading off the fifth, lighting a spark under his team.
Pellegrino had two of East's three hits in the game.
The Lancers kept chipping away and got another run in the sixth when Pellegrino fought off several tough pitches from Beine before beating out an infield single with the bases loaded.
Two walks by Renois and an error preceded the hit.
It was a formula that would burn West (21-13) again in the bottom of the seventh. Beine issued a leadoff walk to Nathan Schmittling and Schmittling was bunted to second.
"I thought Parker made some very, very good pitches that didn't go our way and then fell behind," West coach Lee Meyer said. "When it came to the top of their order, they executed. When you execute good things happen."
Following a walk to Domonic Blaylock, Beine coaxed a potential double-play grounder to short off the bat of Danny Snyder. Shortstop Aaron Meyer threw to Nick Van Osdale at second to get the forceout, but Van Osdale's throw to first trying for a double play got away and the tying run scored.
"It was a clean play at second base and he's trying to do what he does best and finish the game," Coach Meyer said. "There's a lot of things you can look back at and say 'what if.'"
The next batter was Hoguet, whose two-run, walk-off-homer preceded a wild celebration at home plate with his teammates.
"Honestly we just needed for it to be fair because we were going to score and that would have been the winning run," East coach Todd Blomberg said. "I was just praying it was fair, I didn't know it went out until I saw the umpire point and do the circle thing (with his fingers.) That was just a bonus."
Renois belted his first varsity home run in the second inning off East starter Sam Bassett to put the Maroons on top.
Aaron Meyer's leadoff double led to two more runs in the fourth as Austin Bammer came through with a two-run single.
But the 3-0 lead proved to be the Maroons' high-water mark thanks to the Lancers' late comeback.
"We've won six games in the bottom of the seventh or later, so that says a lot about a team," Blomberg said. "There's no quit in this group and there hasn't been all year. It couldn't be any more evident than it is tonight."
After Bammer's hit, Bassett allowed just one more hit in the final three innings.
"We have nothing to hang our heads about," Coach Meyer said. "We have a lot of disappointed Belleville West players on that bus right now, but I can't thank our seniors enough for their leadership and how they've gone about this season.
"These guys are proud and they've had a lot of success in four years at Belleville West. You just hate to see it end this way."