EDWARDSVILLE — While they closed the gap in their second loss to the Edwardsville Tigers this season, the end result remained the same Thursday for Belleville West.
Edwardsville got two-run homers from Aaron Jackson and Brock Weimer and five shutout innings of relief from Daniel Lloyd in a 5-2 Southwestern Conference baseball victory over the Maroons.
"If they'd play us every game they'd have a lot of home runs during the season," said West coach Lee Meyer, whose team also gave up two home runs in a 10-0 loss to Edwardsville on April 8. "They beat us with home runs at our place and beat us with home runs at their place. They're a fine hitting ballclub.
"I take nothing away from their hitting. We get some pitches up and they take advantage of it."
Top-ranked Edwardsville (21-5 overall, 9-2 in SWC play) bounced back from a shutout loss to Belleville East two days earlier. West (12-12) dropped to 5-6 in league play.
With the wind blowing out, Jackson turned an early 2-0 Belleville West lead into a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the first when he blasted a two-run bomb to left center off Belleville West ace Parker Beine (5-3).
After a Belleville West error allowed the Tigers to grab a 3-2 lead in the third, Weimer provided some breathing room with a two-run homer in the fifth. It was his team-leading fourth homer and gave him 25 RBIs.
"Really our approach doesn't change," Weimer said when asked about the wind gusts. "It's the same thing, just try to square the ball up. He's a really good pitcher and he made a lot of good pitches today. I give him a lot of credit."
While giving his hitters credit, Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser gave Beine praise for holding the Tigers to six hits and striking out seven. Collin Clayton was on base three times and scored three runs.
"We've faced him with the wind blowing out and we've hit a couple mistakes," Funkhouser said of the Jefferson College recruit. "He left a mistake up on Jackson and we took advantage of it -- and credit Jackson on that, too.
"On Weimer's home run, he did a good job of hanging in there on a breaking pitch and got some backspin on it. With the wind blowing out, you would think that everybody's going to score some runs It was a great credit to all the pitchers that threw today to be able to pitch under these conditions."
Meyer has liked Beine's progress this season.
"Parker's a quality pitcher but you know what? I think this makes Parker better," Meyer said. "It's understanding that against good hitters you can't afford to make a mistake and if you make a mistake up in the zone, a lot of times it comes back to burn you."
Unbeaten Edwardsville senior Alex Meyers, returning from a short layoff because of tendinitis, allowed two runs in the first on an RBI double by West's Jacob Wilson and an RBI single by Spencer Piquard. Meyers pitched two innings.
Lloyd (6-0) slammed the door after that, pitching around trouble in the fourth and fifth when the Maroons had two men on with one out and failed to score both times.
"That's kind of been the story of us in a lot of games this year," Meyer said, "is we need one hit with runners in scoring position, especially with less than two outs."
Wilson is the only West player in double figures in RBIs with 12. No one else has more than seven.
"We're working for that big hit with runners in scoring position, but it's got to come for us more consistently at this time of the year," Meyer said. "So far it has not."
Lloyd has emerged as a solid contributor for the Tigers as a starter and reliever.
"Lloyd's been phenomenal," Funkhouser said. "He's been a solid contributor all year as well as a couple of our other pitchers. He wasn't as sharp with a couple of the walks, but he makes a lot of great pitches. I wouldn't like to hit off of him because he can do a lot of different things."
Weimer said the Tigers are a tight-knit group that simply has fun playing together.
"We always believe in ourselves and we knew our capabilities," he said. "We enjoy playing together, coming out getting better every day. It's really a joy to play with this team."