Edwardsville pounds out big win over O'Fallon

News-DemocratApril 15, 2014 

— Two pitches into the game Tuesday, Edwardsville junior shortstop Jordan Hovey knew it was going to be a pretty good day.

Hovey belted a solo homer in the first inning, then smacked a three-run blast in the second as the Tigers blasted O'Fallon 11-1 in six innings in a battle between the area's top-ranked teams.

"Any time you play O'Fallon you want to come out and swing the bats well from the beginning, so it was nice to get out to a lead in the first inning," said Hovey, who celebrated the first multi-homer game of his career. "It was fun."

O'Fallon (12-2 overall, 3-1 in the Southwestern Conference), which saw its nine-game winning streak end, was ranked first in the News-Democrat Large-School poll and 14th in the latest PrepBaseballReport.com Illinois state rankings.

Edwardsville (12-2, 4-0) was second in the News-Democrat and 15th in the state. Most expected a tight game, but the Tigers quickly turned it into a rout.

Edwardsville's Aaron Jackson also hit a solo homer in the first off O'Fallon starter Tyler Herbert (3-2), who allowed six runs on eight hits in one-plus innings. Austin Werner followed up Hovey's three-run bomb in the second with a solo homer as the Tigers led 6-0 after two innings and never looked back.

"We got some pretty good swings and I thought we saw the ball pretty well all day," Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser said. "Their pitcher's a very good pitcher and he left some pitches over (the plate). I'm sure he's been a lot better because he's been better against us in the past.

"Today was kind of an anomaly for him, but I was happy with the way our guys competed."

Edwardsville pitcher Alex Meyers (6-0) scattered six hits, allowing O'Fallon's only run in the fourth on a two-out RBI single by Dean Gerros.

"He had a really good summer for us and he's rolled right into the spring, brought back the same confidence and execution of pitches," Funkhouser said.

O'Fallon coach Jason Portz felt his team lost focus after the early offensive blitz by the Tigers.

"It puts you in a spot, but all the credit goes to their hitters," Portz said. "It changes the whole focus of what we're able to do or need to come out to do offensively. They came out and really put some good swings on balls early and that changes the whole focus of the game, no doubt.

"I thought their guys did an outstanding job today not trying to do too much with their swings. They were short and quick to the ball and they got some results out of it, no doubt."

Speaking of results, longtime Edwardsville pitching coach Mike Waldo took part in the 999th baseball win of his career on Tuesday.

Waldo, who also has more than 600 wins as Edwardsville's boys basketball coach, has been the Tigers' pitching coach since 1980.

Long considered one of top pitching coaches in the state, Waldo's career has spanned 26 wins under Bill Funkhouser, 509 wins with Tom Pile and 464 under Tim Funkhouser, Bill Funkhouser's son.

Portz spent time as an Edwardsville assistant and marveled at Waldo's work ethic and preparation.

"He's a lot like Dave Duncan," Portz said of the former St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach. "Tony La Russa talked all the time about how Dave Duncan ought to be in the Hall of Fame and that he set standards in major league baseball. Mike has set the standard for the importance of a high school baseball pitching coach since the early 1980s.

"He's the most decorated pitching coach in the history of the state."

Waldo has a chance to pick up win No. 1,000 against DeSmet on Wednesday.

Playing in only his second game this season, Hovey has impressed Funkhouser.

"He's gotten a lot stronger," said Funkhouser, who described a slower and weaker Hovey his freshman year. "You can tell he's had a passion for playing the game and it's fun to see a guy get rewarded because he's worked so hard. You could see early in the season that the ball was jumping off his bat a lot more."

Edwardsville catcher Brock Weimer had an RBI single in the fourth and Werner walked with the bases loaded to force in a run in the fifth. Jake Garella had an RBI hit during the Tigers' three-run sixth.

It also was a big day for Edwardsville senior second baseman Jacob Fisher, who made an eye-popping defensive play on a ball up the middle in the third. He also showed quickness while starting a double play in the fifth.

Belleville West 1, Alton 0

Belleville West senior right-hander Parker Beine allowed two hits and struck out 10 and Michael Len's ground ball drove in Matt Klosterman with the winning run in the top of the seventh inning to beat Alton.

Althoff 2, Mount Vernon 1

Austin Keen allowed three hits and struck out nine while Connor O'Dell and Sam Haudrich drove in runs in Althoff's South Seven Conference win over Mount Vernon.

Granite City 2, Collinsville 0

Granite City's Austin Buzick allowed two hits and struck out nine to come out on top in a pitching duel with Collinsville's Missouri recruit Tanner Houck. Houck allowed three hits, giving up two runs in the fourth on a two-run double to Dalton Kuehnel and finishing with 11 strikeouts.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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