Nashville’s fast start didn’t translate into success Monday.
The Hornets scored three first-inning runs, then fell apart with two outs in the seventh as Teutopolis grabbed a 4-3 victory in the Class 2A Sauget Super-Sectional at GCS Ballpark.
Two errors fueled the winning rally for the Wooden Shoes, who took the lead on a bases-loaded wild pitch. Nashville threatened in the seventh but stranded the tying run at third.
“We’ve got 11 seniors, and we started seven today,” 14th-year Hornets coach Chad Malawy said, battling tears. “I love these guys. I love them with all my heart, like they’re my sons.
“This group of seniors won 118 games in the program. I don’t know a small school near our size that wins that many games year in and year out. You’ve got to throw O’Fallon and Edwardsville out of that conversation — the big boys. Nobody wins like that. I think we have a great program. Today just wasn’t our day.”
Teutopolis (29-6), appearing in its eighth consecutive super-sectional, won its 18th straight game and will play Orion in the semifinals of the state tournament at 5 p.m. Friday in Peoria. Orion defeated Warren 4-3 in the Rock Island Super-Sectional Monday.
Nashville finished 30-7. The game was delayed by rain for 39 minutes in the third inning.
Teutopolis senior right-hander Lane Belleville (7-0) trailed 3-0 just three batters into the game as Hayden Heggemeier walked and Cody Bauza doubled ahead of Ryan Brink’s three-run homer that narrowly cleared the tall wall near the left-field foul pole.
Belleville, however, then shut the door. He worked six innings, allowed five hits, walked one and struck out 10. Senior Brock Bueker worked the seventh for the save.
“I hated to leave (the game), but I knew Brock could come in and finish it,” Belleville said. “I think (Brink’s home run) helped me focus and keep my pitches better locationwise. It helped me focus on getting my off-speed (pitches) over.”
Nashville finished the game with five errors. The Hornets committed seven errors in a 12-2 loss at Teutopolis on April 22.
“We ended with five errors defensively, which ultimately, I think, was the dagger for the day,” said Malawy. “This game, we just didn’t handle the ball, and T-Town is such a good team that if you give them extra outs, free bases, they’re going to win. They’re an excellent team.”
Center fielder Heggemeier turned in the game’s best defensive play in the fourth. With the bases loaded and two outs, he ranged far into right-center and made a sprawling catch of Belleville’s drive. The play saved three runs and kept the game tied at 3.
“That has to be one of the best catches that parents, players, fans here at the game have seen in a high-school baseball game,” Malawy said. “That was an outstanding catch to save the game and keep us where we were at that point.”