BLOOMINGTON — A five-hit pitching performance by Alex Meyers and a 15-hit barrage by the Edwardsville High School offense propelled the Tigers to a 10-1 win over Moline in the championship game of the Class 4A Sectional tournament on Saturday at Illinois Wesleyan University's Jack Horenberger Field.
The victory sends Edwardsville (32-7) into Monday's Champaign Super-Sectional, where the Tigers will face (New Lenox) Providence at 4:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois. A berth in the state Final Four will be at stake.
Providence advanced with a 9-3 victory over (Frankfort) Lincoln-Way North in the title game of the (Tinley Park) Andrew Sectional.
"We seem to be on a pretty good climb right now," said Edwardsville junior Fahd Shakeel, who led the Tigers with three hits and three RBIs. "I'm happy for our team right now and we just have to continue it. It's an exciting feeling right now."
Shakeel and his teammates staked Meyers to an early 4-0 lead in the second inning, helped by a surprising two-out bunt by Jacob Fisher that not only kept the inning alive, but scored a charging Jake Garella from third base to give Edwardsville a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers had earlier scored on three consecutive hits to open the frame.
"It wasn't a squeeze play, it was a bunt for a hit," said Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser. "A lot of times we give our guys options and (Fisher's) a versatile guy and he was just using his skill set."
"The third baseman was pretty far back and I got the bunt sign from (Funkhouser)," Fisher said. "I originally thought it was going to go foul, but I just kept running."
Fisher beat the throw to first base, moved to second on a single by Bailey Zimmer and scored the inning's third run on a single by Jordan Hovey. Zimmer scored the fourth run on a passed ball.
The four runs were welcomed by Meyers (10-0), who breezed through the Moline batting order for most of the game. He was pulled two batters shy of a complete game when Moline loaded the bases in the seventh.
One of the five hits off Meyers was a solo home run by Moline's Braden Mosley in the third inning that spoiled the shutout.
It was the beginning of a third-inning jam the Meyers got out of with his fastball and slider.
After Moline's Anfernee Crompton followed Mosley's homer by reaching on a single and Mitch Owens walked, Meyers got the four and five hitters in the Moline lineup to strike out and ground out to end the threat.
"I was trying to stop the damage and not let them get another run," Meyers said. "I just took a step back and kept trying to make good pitches."
Edwardsville had already added two runs in the top of the third and was leading 6-1 at the time. The Tigers also scored three runs in the fourth and one in the sixth to run away with the victory.
Aaron Jackson had three hits, including a pair of doubles for the Tigers. Hovey, Garella and Fisher also had multiple hits.