Hilgards nip Swansea in short game

News-DemocratJune 23, 2014 

— Luke Frazier tied it with an RBI double and then scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball Monday as the Belleville Hilgards edged Swansea-Fairview Heights 3-2 in a rain-shortened game at Whitey Herzog Field.

The game was called with Belleville still batting in the bottom of the fifth because of wet field conditions.

"We had a couple chances early and we weren't able to make good contact with the ball," Belleville manager Zach Rakowski said. "Obviously we were facing a very good pitcher, so you know it's going to be tough. We got some guys on for the middle of the lineup there (in the fifth) and they were able to deliver the way that they have been all year so far."

The Hilgards (14-3) were trailing 2-1 headed into the fifth with O'Fallon High ace Blake Deatherage on the mound for Swansea-Fairview Heights.

Deatherage issued a one-out walk to John Dozier and Southwestern Illinois College first baseman Adam Bauer followed with a single.

Frazier scored Dozier on a double to left and Bauer was out by a wide margin at the plate also trying to score on the play. Tempers flared briefly as contact was made near home plate, but order was quickly restored by the umpires.

"Deatherage was actually throwing good," Swansea/Fairview Heights manager Craig Steiner said. "I think that their player bumping him at the plate kind of got him off his game. I should have got him out right away, that was a mistake I made."

"That's one of those plays where they have you dead to rights," Rakowski said. "The pitcher's standing up for his teammates. I understand that, we probably have a lot of guys that would do the same thing. It's just competitive guys trying to win a game."

Frazier scored on a passed ball to put Belleville on top and Brendan Saak followed with another double that chased Deatherage.

"Luke been our big RBI guy all year," Rakowski said. "Adam (Bauer), Sam (Haudrich) and John (Dozier) have really set the table for him and he's done a good job of cleaning it up and helping us score."

Swansea-Fairview Heights (11-5) had just changed pitchers when the umpires decided to call the game with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.

"They thought that the field was getting to an unplayable position," Steiner said. "I'm very surprised that they called it that quickly and that easily, especially at the point in the game that it was."

The field had taken a heavy rain earlier in the day and it began raining again in the fourth inning.

"It's the umpire's discretion and they indicated the No. 1 thing they were concerned with was the safety of the players," Rakowski said. "(The home plate umpire) felt like the pitcher was slipping on the mound and he asked him and he confirmed that."

Like Steiner, Rakowski also would like to have played the full seven innings.

"I can understand where he's coming from," Rakowski said. "Obviously they would be upset about it and I can definitely understand that, because if the shoe was on the other foot I'd be upset about it too.

"You always want to finish the games on the field, this is just an unfortunate thing that happened. With the weather that we've had this summer, it's not surprising."

Belleville broke on top in the first when Saak drove in Sam Haudrich with a sacrifice fly. Haudrich walked and stole second before moving to third on a ground ball to the left side.

Fairview Heights answered with two runs in the top of the second against Hilgards starter Cory Renois, who just finished his freshman season at Rend Lake.

Brady Schanuel's RBI double followed up singles by Kyle Boewe and Dean Gerros. A sacrifice fly by Hayden Hewitt chased home the go-ahead run, but Hilgards catcher Eric Mertens helped end the threat when he picked off a runner that had wandered too far away from second base.

Deatherage, headed to McKendree University, issued an uncharacteristic five walks in the first two innings. He walked three straight in the second to load the bases with two outs, but retired John Dozier on a fly ball to third to end the threat.

Deatherage allowed only one hit in the first four innings before Belleville rallied in the fifth.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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