MASCOUTAH — O'Fallon junior Chris Holba overcame a shaky beginning against the Mascoutah Indians on Friday.
Holba allowed hits to the first two batters and fell behind 1-0 in the first, but retired 16 in a row and went the distance as the Panthers rallied for a 5-2 victory.
"I was able to find the zone," said Holba (4-0), a right-hander who walked none and struck out six. "I had a rough first inning; they got a few runners on early. But I was able to settle in.
"It was the first real mound I've thrown on all year, because we throw on a turf mound. It was a little bit of an adjustment. Thankfully, I was able to find it."
Senior Dean Gerros was 3-for-4 with a double and and RBI to lead an 11-hit attack. Junior Kyle VanBevern and senior Colin Holton each had two hits and an RBI as the Panthers improved to 21-2.
O'Fallon coach Jason Portz was impressed with Holba, who usually was ahead in the count.
"He's learning how to command the zone," Portz said. "Chris has a lot of run and a lot of sink to his ball. It puts a lot of pressure on hitters --and it puts a lot of pressure on our catcher to be really fine every day.
"This is what Chris has been doing for us lately. We're real happy with where he's at. I don't care if you're a high-school pitcher or if you're Adam Wainwright, the key to success on the mound is strike one."
After seniors Collin Renth and Alex Oltmann singled to start the Mascoutah first, the Indians (18-3) had just two other hits against Holba --sixth-inning singles by Renth and senior Ryan Netemeyer. Their Nos. 4 through 9 hitters were 0-for-15.
Mascoutah also hurt itself with five errors.
"Unfortunately, we didn't play our best game of the year," Indians coach Don Eddy said. "We made five or six errors and they did a good job taking advantage of our mistakes. They were better than we were today."
Senior Austin Waugh's sacrifice fly gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the first. O'Fallon tied it in the third on sophomore Bradley Harrison's single and went ahead for good in the fifth when senior Blake Deatherage was ruled safe at the plate on Gerros' grounder to short.
Deatherage had opened the inning with a single against junior Austin Christ, who relieved junior Daniel Milas and was charged with the loss. O'Fallon pulled away with three in the sixth on RBI singles by Holba, VanBevern and Holton.