EDWARDSVILLE — With the major league scouts continuing to follow the progress of Collinsville ace Tanner Houck at Tom Pile Field on Tuesday it would have been easy for Edwardsville pitcher Jordan Hovey to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, Hovey stole the show.
Making his first start and just his second appearance on the mound all season, Hovey pitched a three-hit shutout as the Tigers remained undefeated in Southwestern Conference play with a 4-0 win.
Hovey, who pitched three innings in the Tigers win over Civic Memorial at Busch Stadium 10 days ago, struck out just one and was aided by excellent defensive plays from outfielders Fahd Shakeel and Austin Werner in the complete game effort.
So impressive was Hovey that he allowed only five Kahoks to reach base and left three in scoring position.
And when did Hovey find out he was getting the start.
"Ummmm..... today (Tuesday). I thought I was just going to throw out of the bullpen today. I found out that (Alex) Meyers was having a little trouble with him arm so I got the start,'' Hovey said. "My fastball was working well and moving a lot. I was able to keep them off balance and then I used my slider well.
"Having the scouts here watching him (Houck) didn't have any affect on me. I just wanted to throw strikes. My pitches sink a lot anyway and so I just wanted to throw strikes and help my team. The defense made some nice plays and we were able to get enough hits off him (Houck) a and score a few runs.
Tigers catcher Brock Weimer had a run-scoring double in the first inning which proved to be the only run Hovey would need. Edwardsville (16-2, 6-0) added three insurance runs in the sixth inning off Houck.
Aaron Jackson made it 2-0 with an RBI double and two pitches later, Jake Garella added a two-run single as Edwardsville put the game away.
Houck, a 6-foot-5 210-pound senior and University of Missouri recruit, pitched well, allowing just one run and four hits through five innings.
But on this day, Hovey was better.
"He (Hovey) has a lot of composure. I think he liked being in the setting of pitching in this type of game,'' Tigers coach Tim Funkhouser said. "He didn't play with us over the (last) summer. He played with another team but we knew coming in that he was the kind of kid who could help us both hitting and on defense. Jordan measures his pitches well and pitched very well for us today.''
Edwardsville scored an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning off Houck. Hovey led off and reached on an error. One out later, Weimer lined a double to the left-centerfield gap to score the first run of the afternoon.
Collinsville (10-6, 3-3) had its best scoring chance of the game in the top of the third inning. Daniel Franke led off by beating out an infield hit then advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt and a long fly ball to rightfielder Austin Werner.
Hovey then got the final out on a weak ground ball back to the mound.
Collinsville coach Pete Trapp said his team didn't execute well enough to win.
"You guys want to talk to me," Trapp joked after the game to reporters. "Tanner (Houck) pitched well. We didn't make the play on defense in the first inning which led to a run and then we had three hits all day. We didn't hit the ball hard enough to put any offensive pressure on them.
"Edwardsville is Edwardsville and Funkhouser and (pitching coach) Mike Waldo do a great job. Hovey pitched well, but their defense made some great plays behind him."