O'FALLON — Another day, another crazy Southwestern Conference softball game.
Sam Busekrus scored from first base on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan DeRemer in the bottom of the eighth inning as the O'Fallon Panthers beat the Belleville West Maroon 6-5 on Thursday.
The Maroons had tied the score at 5-5 by rallying for five runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Busekrus singled to right field with one out in the eighth inning.
DeRemer bunted the ball to West third baseman Danielle Touchette, whose throw to first was off the mark and got away from Cassandra Craig.
The ball rolled out of play near the first-base dugout as Busekrus was rounding third.
Busekrus was awarded an extra base, and she ran home to score the winning run.
"We came out with a 'W,''' O'Fallon coach Kelly Paproth said. "My girls battled there at the end and they kept their energy. We've come off some tough losses and there has been some things that we have been working on that we applied today.
"They were all in sync and playing as a team tonight.''
Both teams shook hands and headed out to the outfield for postgame talks.
West coaches Casey Garrrett and Bob Yagge met with the umpires and argued that the run shouldn't have scored, because Busekrus was at second at the time of the throw.
O'Fallon coaches Kelly and Mark Paproth were called into the discussion, and there were a couple of tense minutes before the game was officially ruled to be over.
"It's a questionable play and it's a terrible way to go out,'' Garrett said.
The Panthers improved to 11-5 overall, 3-2 in the SWC heading into the O'Fallon Tournament on Friday and Saturday at the O'Fallon Family Park.
The Maroons dropped to 4-5 overall, 3-1 in the SWC.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Busekrus reached on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly.
They went up 2-0 in the second when Molly Dumstorff reached on an error and scored on an error.
"The errors definitely killed us,'' Garrett said. "We came out flat, not ready to play. We weren't ready for their bunts at times, we weren't ready for a few fly balls. You learn from that and you move on.''
Sami Stadts led off the third inning for the Panthers with a solo homer. Stadts sent a 2-2 pitch from West's Bethany Dain over the left-field fence to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
The Panthers pushed across two more runs in the fourth on four straight singles by Taylor Dichsen, Allison Spihlman, Busekrus and DeRemer, and a sacrifice fly from Stadts.
Dain was relieved by Isabella Holtrop with one out in the fourth.
The Maroons broke through against O'Fallon pitcher Addison Barnouski in the seventh.
Hannah Slimack and Olivia Young drew walks to start the inning. Hannah Bierman brought in a run with a single to center field.
Touchette walked and Young scored when Craig hit into a force at third.
Kiri Evans singled off Barnouski's glove and Alliyah St. John was hit by a pitch to force in a run, making it 5-3.
Emily Fulton singled in a run and Megan Glaeser drove in the tying run with a grounder to second base.
The Maroons sent 10 batters to the plate in the seventh.
"We came out flat and picked it up and rallied for five in the seventh,'' Garrett said. "I'm proud of the way they were able to pick it up.''
Paproth said she wasn't worried after the Maroons tied the score.
"They had their energy up and I knew they could pull through,'' Kelly Paproth said. "We've been in a lot of tough spots this season with runners on, and I just had confidence in my girls that they are going to get it done.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.