East pitcher follows up shutout over Alton by blanking Edwardsville

News-DemocratMay 6, 2014 

— Belleville East left-hander Austin Wilson has crafted back-to-back pitching gems.

Wilson threw a four-hit shutout as the Lancers knocked off the Edwardsville Tigers 1-0 Tuesday in a Southwestern Conference baseball.

Wilson threw a five-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over Alton last Thursday.

"It feels great,'' Wilson said. "My coaches believe me. They just tell me, 'Go out and do what you do.' They don't say, 'I want this from you.' No, they just (say), 'Go do what I know you can do.'''

Like he did against Alton, Wilson let his defense do the work for him. He struck out two and walked two.

"I threw the pitches my coach told me to throw, I believe in my defense and they did it for me,'' Wilson said. "They hit it, but our fielders were right there to make the plays.''

The Lancers improved to 11-11 overall, 5-5 in the SWC.

"We've had a couple of good outings lately,'' East coach Todd Blomberg said. "Austin has really pitched his tail off the last couple of games. He throws strikes, and we've been very strong defensively. That's kind of something we've preached all year. If we can throw strikes and our defense can make some plays, we'll scratch across a couple of runs, and hopefully it is enough. And, today it was.''

Edwardsville pitcher Jordan Hovey was the hard-luck loser. He allowed only one hits, but that player came around to score the lone run of the game.

"That's the first earned run that he has given up all year, and he's still 0-2 on the season,'' Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser said of Hovey. "We definitely need to give him some more run support. I thought their lefty did a great job of changing speeds. We talked about it before the game started, that this is the kind of guy who is going to make you get yourself out.''

The Tigers fell to 20-5 overall, 8-2 in the SWC.

It was the their second SWC loss in a week as they dropped a 4-2 decision to Alton last Tuesday.

"We need to improve on a lot of different areas,'' Funkhouser said. "We see some of these things in batting practice where we get ourselves out. Those are the things that when you get in a game like this, you end up seeing up a lot more of that. It's not just because you lost and you are down. It's because those things came out.''

The Lancers got their run in the bottom of the third as Sheldon Howard led off with a single through the right side of the infield.

Domonic Blaylock drew a walk and Drew Millas bunted the runners to second and third.

Parker Hendricks hit a grounder to the shortstop that brought home Howard.

The Tigers had their best scoring opportunity in the top of the fourth inning after Brock Weimer and Aaron Jackson led off with back-to-back singles.

Wilson struck out Jake Garrella and then got Fahd Shakeel to hit a grounder to East third baseman Brady Schanuel, who threw home to Millas in time to tag out pinch runner Kyle Zach.

"My heart dropped on that one,'' Wilson said. "I'm like, 'Uh oh, they are tying it,' and then I saw my third baseman make the incredible play and throw it to home. My heart was like, 'Yes, I am not losing this.' That just picked my pitching right back up.''

Wilson then got Collin Clayton to ground out to second base to escape the jam.

The Lancers avenged a 4-3 loss to the Tigers on April 10.

"We've come a long way since then, to be honest,'' Blomberg said. "We've really shored some things up, and our kids have worked really hard. Defensively, we've turned a shaky situation into feeling pretty solid with our defense now. That helps our pitchers. They feel more confident throwing to contact and not trying to strike everybody out.''

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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