TRENTON — The surging Edwardsville Post 199 squad captured its 10th straight win Thursday with a 4-0 victory over Wheaton at the American Legion State Tournament at Pete Schumacher Field.
But to pitcher Zack Sparks and most of his teammates, it's not the number that matters, it's the victory.
Working quickly throughout a warm afternoon at Trenton City Park, Sparks did his part scattering nine hits in a complete-game effort as Edwardsville advanced into the semifinals of the double-elimination tournament at Trenton City Park.
"I don't think any of us are caught up in that we've won 10 in a row. It's that we're winning and playing good baseball that matters," Sparks said. "Jevon (Boyd) pitched a great game on Wednesday, and watching that I wanted to come out today and see if could do better.
"It's just a friendly competition."
Boyd, who was the winning pitcher in Edwardsville's opening game 8-1 win over Elk Grove, had a two-run double to key a four-run fourth inning as Edwardsville (31-6) moved into a 3 p.m. semifinal Friday against defending state champion Moline.
Both Moline and Edwardsville have 2-0 records in the tournament.
A Southwestern Illinois College recruit, Sparks worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the fifth inning, then got out of another jam in the seventh. Sparks threw 116 pitches and of the 27 outs, 16 came on ground balls.
"I was working the outside part of the plate early in the game, then coming more on the inner part of the plate later. I think that's why you saw a few ground balls off the hands later in the game," Sparks said. "The defense made some good plays behind me.''
Wheaton pitcher Bryan Polowy also pitched well in a complete-game effort. Polowy gave up eight hits, but of Edwardsville's four runs, only two were earned. Wheaton made all three of its errors in Edwardsville's four-run fourth.
Edwardsville leadoff hitter Blake Graham reached on an error and both Chase McPeak and Drew Curtis got aboard with singles when Wheaton outfielders failed to catch a couple of shallow fly balls.
"(He) Polowy also pitched well. He had three pitches working well, a fastball, curve and slider. He was working quickly and he had a great pickoff move to first base," Edwardsville manager Ken Schaake said. "I think they were a little fooled because they (Wheaton's) outfielders were playing so deep because of what they saw the last game.
"We hit some that fell in front of them today. We'll take those, too."
Boyd then broke up the scoreless tie with his two-run hit and four pitches later Jordan Heckler lined a single to make it 3-0.
Edwardsville made it 4-0 later in the inning and Sparks did the rest.
"Zack's a pitcher who relies on keeping the ball down, having good location with his pitches," Schaake said. "They hit a couple of balls hard that our outfield had to track down, but mostly he (Sparks) made good pitches and the infield made the plays."
Wheaton (35-13) will take on host Trenton in a losers' bracket game at 11 a.m. on Friday.