BELLEVILLE — Clutch hits, good defense and the pitching of left-hander Austin Wilson were a winning combination for the Belleville East Lancers.
Wilson threw a four-hit shutout as the Lancers blanked the Alton Redbirds 5-0 on Thursday in a Southwestern Conference baseball game.
"I threw strikes, the defense made the plays I needed them to make behind me, we had timely hitting and we had great base-running,'' Wilson said.
The Lancers improved to 10-11 overall, 4-5 in the SWC.
The Redbirds, who were coming off a 4-2 win over Edwardsville on Tuesday, fell to 16-10 overall, 3-6 in the SWC.
"We knew we had our work cut out for us with them coming off a big win,'' East coach Todd Blomberg said. "We've been struggling a little bit. We had a pretty good week last week, but we dropped a tough one to Granite (City) on Tuesday.
"We needed to get a good win today and Austin pitched his heart out on the mound. He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes, which is wonderful. It allows a pitcher to do a lot of things.''
Wilson struck out five and walked three.
"My fastball was working great, and in pregame my curveball was doing terrible, but I found a way to work through it,'' Wilson said.
Alton, which entered the game leading the SWC in runs scored with 194, was shut out for only the second time this season. Belleville West beat the Redbirds 1-0 earlier this season,
"Offensively, we didn't make the adjustments today,'' Alton coach Todd Haug said. "Baseball is a game of change, a game of adjustments, and good teams and good players keep making adjustments.
"The best make adjustments faster than others, and we just continued to do the same thing (at the plate) each inning and the result is a loss.''
Wilson also drove in the Lancers' first run in the second inning. He singled up the middle to bring home Kevin Horner, who had singled to lead off the inning.
"It was relieving,'' Wilson said of getting the early lead. "I was like, 'We have a one-run lead and all I have to do is throw strikes and let the defense work.''
The Lancers added a run in the fifth as Nick Martin hit a one-out single and Domonic Blaylock came through with a two-out double to left-center field.
The Lancers got three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Parker Hendricks, Horner and Brady Schanuel all hit successive singles to bring in a run and Sheldon Howard delivered a two-out, two-run single to left.
"We got a good timely hit a couple times, and we haven't been getting those consistently,'' Blomberg said. "It was nice to see that we got those today.''
The Redbirds had their best scoring opportunity in the fifth inning.
Drake Hampton led off with a single and stole second.
Jacob Skrabacz reached on an infield single and Clint Cress hit a grounder to Schanuel at third.
Schanuel threw home to catcher Drew Millas, who tagged out Hampton.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.