It's back to work for the Mascoutah Indians.
The Indians (30-6), coming off their championship in the Class 3A Waterloo Regional on Saturday, will play Mississippi Valley Conference opponent Jerseyville (24-12) at 4 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals of the Triad Regional.
In the other semifinal, Salem will face Carbondale at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The winners will meet at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"I think all nine guys hit over .300, which is pretty darn impressive," Indians coach Don Eddy said of Jerseyville, which split two games against Mascoutah during the regular season. "The biggest thing is being to locate and throw strikes (against them). We didn't play very good defense when they beat us here in May. We had five errors, so we just have to play good, clean baseball.
"It's very important not to give the other team free bases, whether it be a walk, a hit by pitch, an error. The more free baserunners you give people, the bigger hole you're putting yourself in that you've got to dig out of. Being able to avoid that is a big thing."
The Panthers lost to Mascoutah 6-5 on April 21 in Jerseyville, but Jerseyville returned the favor with a 7-6 win May 7 in Mascoutah. The Indians won the MVC with an 8-2 mark, while the Panthers were fifth with a 4-6 record.
The Indians will pitch senior ace Ryan Netemeyer (8-0, 1.07 ERA), the Southern Illinois University Carbondale recruit who fired a two-hitter and struck out nine in the 5-1 victory over Waterloo that gave Mascoutah the regional title. Netemeyer has 85 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings.
"He's been a stud," Eddy said. "Every time he takes the mound, we've got a great chance of winning the ballgame. "He's got great velocity, he locates well and he's really worked on his cutter the last two years. When he's able to mix all that in together with his changeup and curveball, he's pretty darn good."
Eddy expects the Indians to face Jerseyville junior Crick Kimble (5-2, 5.04 ERA). Junior Jake Varble threw more than 100 pitches Saturday when the Panthers defeated Civic Memorial 5-3 in the championship game of the Highland Regional.
"We've never seen Varble," Eddy said. "Obviously, they're going to do what they're going to do. But Kimble started both times against us. They've pretty much treated him as their No. 1 all year. If they want to throw somebody we haven't seen, they could drop Varble out there."
In any case, a lack of familiarity won't be an issue.
"They know us, we know them," Eddy said. "There's not going to be a whole lot of secrets."
Mascoutah's offense is led by senior first baseman Collin Renth (.429, four home runs, 25 RBIs), Netemeyer (.364, 14 doubles, 33 RBIs), senior third baseman Alex Oltmann (.355, 23 RBIs) and senior second baseman Jacob Pratt (.339, 29 RBIs).
"We preach to the kids to put the ball in play and give yourself a chance," said Eddy, whose team capitalized on four errors that led to five unearned runs against Waterloo.
Jerseyville has scored 10 or more runs 15 times this season. Its top three hitters are senior Kyle Obertino (.391, 29 RBIs), junior Luke Shively (.390, 22 RBIs), senior Kyle Steckel (.351, 24 RBIs) and Varble (.333, four homers, 39 RBIs).
Win or lose against Jerseyville, the Indians have had a remarkable season with 30 victories.
"I've been doing it 10 years and 30 wins is a heck of a lot of wins," Eddy said. "It's the first time I know of that we've done that here at Mascoutah. The kids are very aware of that, too. We've got seven seniors and they've probably been playing together since they were 9, 10, 11 years old. And the juniors have filled in great."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.