SAUGET — While he danced in and out of trouble many times Monday, Mater Dei right-hander Kyle Eversgerd still carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh inning at GCS Ballpark in Sauget.
Eversgerd lost his no-hitter on a leadoff single in the seventh by Central freshman Jack Strieker, but he still got the win as the Knights knocked off the rival Cougars 3-1.
"I didn't really try to think about it, that's how I am," Eversgerd said when asked about the no-hitter. "I don't try to worry about those things ... my defense helped me a lot this game. Seven walks, not very good, but I'll definitely do better."
Eversgerd (4-3) enjoyed getting the start in front of a big crowd at the home of the Frontier League's Gateway Grizzlies.
"I love it, it's unreal," he said. " I love this park. I love the atmosphere, so many people ... I just love coming here."
Trying to protect a 3-0 lead, Eversgerd had an 0-1 count on Strieker when the freshman lined a clean single into left field. Eversgerd's throwing error on a potential force play at second extended the inning and Central's Dakota Auer drove in a run with a grounder to short.
Eversgerd walked Dylan Loquasto to create a bit more drama, then struck out Brandon Richter for the final out.
"It was the ebbs and flows of pitching," Mater Dei coach Travis Gebke said of Eversgerd, who threw 115 pitches. "When he was around the zone he was real dirty. Hopefully we can knock down that pitch count and make it a little more efficient. I think we could win a lot of games with pitching the way he did today. I was very happy with him."
The rivals meet again Monday in a Class 2A regional game at Central.
Central coach Kevin Crask said he tried to have fun with the game and both coaches used liberal substitutions with lots of pinch-hitters and pinch-runners trying to get everyone onto the field.
"We've been working on all the things we do to win baseball games, whether we're playing Central who we play in the he first round or any of our games this week," Gebke said. "It's all being looked at as more or less a tune-up to get us ready."
Mater Dei got several top-notch defensive plays from third baseman Grant Johnston and shortstop Nick Pollmann.
Central starter Kellen Lake also pitched well, but the Knights scratched out single runs in the second and third on an RBI groundout by Grant Camillo and an RBI single by Chandler Haar.
Mater Dei's Blake Haag left no doubt about the third run, crushing a pitch from Loquasto over the fence in right-center for a solo homer.
"I told the kids you gave up six hits over seven innings, we gave up three runs," said Crask, whose young squad is 10-18. "One (Haag's homer) definitely was earned. I think the kids put too much pressure on themselves. You could see the first inning or two they were just playing tight. You could see it in their swings, but they loosened up."
Central's best scoring chance before the seventh came when Eversgerd walked three straight to load the bases with two outs in the third. He escaped the jam when Central cleanup hitter Dillon Smith popped out to second.
"At the beginning of the season we struggled at the plate, but the last seven, eight nine games we've been able to dig out six or eight hits a game," said Crask, whose team was coming off a 9-8 upset win over Cahokia Conference rival Freeburg. "Tonight this was not us at the plate. That just was not the type of Central hitting I've seen the last few games."