O'FALLON — O'Fallon fought fire with fire Tuesday.
After Collinsville scored five fifth-inning runs to grab a 5-3 lead, the Panthers responded with six in their half of the inning and defeated the Kahoks 9-5 in a rainy Southwestern Conference opener for both teams.
Sophomore Bradley Harrison homered against Collinsville ace Tanner Houck and senior right-hander Tyler Herbert pitched into the seventh as O'Fallon improved to 7-1 overall.
"It's definitely a good win," said Herbert, who allowed five unearned runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. "I was feeling really good the first four innings. The rain started coming down in the fifth and I kind of lost it there for a minute. But I battled back. My defense made some plays behind me and I kept the ball down."
Herbert set down the first 13 hitters before junior Aaron Ortiz singled with one out in the fifth. He finished with one walk and seven strikeouts, and yielding to senior Blake Deatherage with two on and one out in the seventh.
Deatherage retired the final two hitters for the save.
"I think a lot of people will look at the box score and not be so impressed with what Tyler Herbert did," O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said. "He was lights-out the first four innings."
Herbert had just 31 pitches, 25 for strikes, through four, recording four strikeouts and allowing two balls to be hit out of the infield.
O'Fallon capitalized, grabbing a 3-0 lead against professional prospect Houck. Senior Jeff Hahs had an RBI single in the first, and Senior Colin Holton tripled and scored on an error in the second ahead of Harrison's homer to right-center that made it 3-0.
The Kahoks (6-1) capitalized an a one-out error by Panthers sophomore shortstop Camden Bauer in the fifth to score five unearned runs. Senior Aaron Peskar's two-run single put Collinsville ahead 4-3 and senior Zack Mathes' RBI single made it 5-3.
With Houck coming off a fourth inning in which he struck out the side, O'Fallon appeared to be trouble after falling behind. But Deatherage's two-run double made it 6-5 and Bradley Snyder's two-run triple made it 8-5. Another run scored on an error.
"It's tough," Collinsville coach Pete Trapp said. "O'Fallon is great about making it hurt whenever you make a mistake. I'll tell you what, however many times we've played them in the past how many years, that's always been the case. You make one mistake, and they capitalize. They did it again."
Houck, a right-hander who has signed with Missouri, lasted five innings. He allowed nine runs (eight earned) on eight hits, with two walks and six strikeouts. He threw 89 pitches, 60 for strikes.
"I think he tried to be too perfect at times," Trapp said. "They had some great at-bats against him and did a good job.
"You would love to say we're going to win every time he's out there, but at the same time, when he's on the mound for us, we're going to see a pretty good guy from the other team. If Tanner can go out and learn from this stuff, he's going to be even better."
Holton and junior Kyle VanBevern had two hits apiece for the Panthers. Harrison, Deatherage and Snyder each drove in two.
Harrison, an outfielder and pitcher who has verbally committed to Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said his third-inning homer on a down-and-in fastball "felt really good," adding that the offensive outburst against Houck will help the Panthers.
"It really boosts the confidence of our offense and shows how much potential this team has," said Harrison, a left-handed swinger. "It shows we can hit off anybody in this conference and almost anybody in the state --and that we can win any game."
"An indication of a good team is a team that answers," he said. "I felt like we came out and we didn't put our tail between our legs (in the fifth). We answered against a quality arm, considered by many to be maybe the best arm in the state of Illinois.
"When you can do that against a guy like Tanner Houck, you're going to have a chance to have success."
Junior Grant Bauer and Peskar had two hits apiece for the Kahoks.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.