Following nearly the same script as Belleville West a day earlier, Belleville East scored the tying run in the seventh inning and the winning run in the 11th for a 2-1 victory Thursday over Collinsville at the Class 4A Belleville East Regional.
Belleville East junior right-hander Brady Schanuel (5-6) went all 11 innings, shutting out the Kahoks for the final 10 frames. He surrendered only four hits --two over the final eight innings -- struck out 10 without a walk and finished with 122 pitches.
Incredibly, 89 of them were strikes.
"It was the most tiring game of my life, I'm not going to lie," Schanuel said. "I was dead tired, but I just kept fighting, kept throwing strikes and hoping my defense was behind me --and they were tonight.
"(East coach Todd Blomberg) was asking me if I was OK since like the seventh inning and I was telling him I felt great."
The Lancers trailed 1-0 and had been shut out on three until the seventh, when Kahoks ace Tanner Houck hit Jacob Parker with a pitch. Parker advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out RBI single by Domonic Blaylock past the diving shortstop into left field.
East won it in the 11th when Kevin Horner reached on a leadoff single against Collinsville reliever Zack Mathes and scored on a two-out RBI double to right by Joey Ferreri.
Belleville East (18-13) will face city rival Belleville West (16-16) in the regional championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Belleville East. West advanced with a 2-1, 11-inning victory Wednesday over top-seeded O'Fallon.
"It was eerie how similar those games were," Blomberg said of the back-to-back ,11-inning contests featuring come-from-behind wins by Belleville teams.
During the regular season, East beat West 8-3 and 7-6.
Blomberg said he and his staff were monitoring the pitch count and condition of Schanuel, who was breezing through the middle innings. He retired 18 in a row at one point before allowing a two-out single to Dylan McEwen in the ninth.
"He did the typical pitcher response, 'I'm fine,' but he didn't look like he was laboring at all," Blomberg said. "His ball never started going up, he never started missing the strike zone more. The way he looked out there and the way he was throwing, it didn't look like it was a labor-intensive (pitch count). We felt comfortable that he was still able to go out and perform."
Houck, a University of Missouri recruit and potential major league draft pick next month, was extremely tough. The 6-foot-5 senior right-hander struck out 15, surrendering just four hits and walking one in 6 2/3 innings.
Houck (6-3) struck out eight of the first 10 men he faced, carving up the East lineup for 13 strikeouts through five innings.
"He really threw the ball extremely well," Blomberg said. "There's a reason he was recruited by an SEC team and is a potential draft pick. He was absolutely fantastic today."
Ferreri was something of an unlikely hero. The senior had only five hits in 18 at-bats with three RBIs before Thursday, but is a huge reason the Lancers will play for the regional title.
"You talk about a kid who just made the most of an unbelievable opportunity," Blomberg said. "He's a kid that stays after every day, didn't get a lot of chances to be in our lineup throughout the season. He came up with a really big hit at a very critical time. I told our team I could not be more proud of a kid."
Mathes' RBI groundout in the first accounted for the lone run by the Kahoks.
Collinsville had only two hits in the final 10 innings and failed to score again despite Belleville East committing a combined five errors in the second and third inning.
The Kahoks had three runners thrown out at the plate, including Grant Bauer when he tried to score on a fly ball to right field. Bauer had three of Collinsville's four hits.
"We had opportunities to score some runs early in the game and we didn't," Kahoks coach Pete Trapp said. "You can go watch 1,000 high school baseball games and when you don't take care of the opportunity when it's there, it comes back to haunt you."
There weren't many scoring opportunities later with Schanuel working his magic on the Collinsville bats.
"You've got to give credit to Schanuel," Trapp said. "He pitched a hell of a game."