FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — Alex Sandheinrich made sure the Belleville Hilgards' season would last at least one more day Wednesday at the Senior American Legion Fifth Division Tournament.
A freshman at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Sandheinrich pitched a five-hit shutout as Belleville defeated Effingham 2-0 in a losers' bracket game at Moody Park.
Belleville (31-13) scored runs in the third and seventh inning off Effingham starter Alec Quandt and Sandheinrich, backed by an impressive effort from his infield, did the rest to lift the Hilgards into a semifinal against Edwardsville on Thursday.
The Hilgards' defense turned four double plays and got leaping and diving gems from third baseman Austin Benevue and shortstop Aaron Meyer.
"I felt good from the first inning on. My curveball was working well and the slider had a lot of bite to it,'' Sandheinrich said. "But the defense was just great. Four double plays really helped us out. Those guys just really played well all day behind me.''
Belleville scored a run in the third when Adam Bauer was hit a by a pitch and went to third on a single by Meyer. Bauer then scored on a throwing error.
The Hilgards did have chances to expand the lead, stranding five runners in scoring position in the first three innings.
"You can look at that two ways," Hilgards manager Zach Rakowski said. "We wasted some chances, but on the other hand you had to feel like we would have other opportunities.
"Alex was just great and in total command all day. He's a guy who throws strikes and works fast, which keeps the infield alert and on its toes. Defensively we made all the plays today."
Bryce Richter added a run-scoring single in the seventh inning, giving Belleville a 2-0 lead.
Fairview Heights 11, Aviston 3
Andrew Witkowski pitched seven strong innings while Tanner Hudson had four hits and drove in three runs as host Fairview Heights remained alive in the double-elimination tournament, with a win over Clinton County foe Aviston.
Getting second-inning singles from Nolan Haake and Alex Gebke, along with a wild pitch from Witkowski, Aviston led 1-0 early behind the strong pitching of Zach Kloeckner.
But Fairview Heights (16-17) scored four times in the fifth and slowly pulled away after that to advance into a Thursday game against Murphysboro.
Hudson, who missed most of the season with an arm injury, along with Anthony Garza had run-scoring singles during the fifth-inning uprising, which included two walks and a pair of hit batters by Kloeckner.
Hudson added an RBI single in the sixth, then put the finishing touches on his big day with another RBI single during another four-run inning in the ninth.
"I thought we came out and swung the bats well and I can't tell you how nice it is to have Tanner (Hudson) back in the lineup,'' Fairview Heights manager Craig Steiner said. "He gives us a guy in the middle of the order who is a solid run producer.''
After struggling to find the strike zone during the first two innings, Witkowski settled down in his final five innings He worked seven innings before Garza pitched the final two in relief.
"Andrew struggled a little bit early, but settled in and pitched well,'' Steiner said. "He got ahead of the hitters and mixed his pitches well.''
Marty Brunk added two hits and three RBIs for Fairview Heights, while Danny Hughes also had three hits to aid the Fairview Heights' attack.