There may be a team out there that might beat the Edwardsville Tigers in the Class 4A baseball playoffs, but someone's going to have to score a run off them first.
Edwardsville junior Daniel Lloyd authored the Tigers' third straight playoff shutout Wednesday, holding Belleville West to five hits in a 9-0 semifinal victory at the Bloomington Sectional.
"That's our goal going into it," said the 9-0 Lloyd, whose team has not been scored on in its last 23 innings. "We've got to think we can't give up any runs because our team's going to score some runs."
On Wednesday, they dialed up a bunch of them against a Belleville West pitching staff that had surrendered only two runs in 23 postseason innings.
Jacob Fisher's RBI triple keyed a two-run second inning against West starter Parker Beine and Aaron Jackson's three-run homer highlighted a five-run fifth that gave Lloyd more than enough of a cushion.
Edwardsville (31-7) managed only two hits Saturday in its 1-0 regional championship victory over Alton and junior ace Bryan Hudson.
"Hudson put a spell on us with his great stuff and great competitiveness and our guys kept working and didn't get down on themselves," Tigers coach Tim Funkhouser said. "We got some good work in the last couple days. Some guys started finding their swing and today that was evident, because Belleville West has had outstanding pitching.
"I thought they did a pretty good job, but balls they left over the plate we were able to hit. That was the difference with us scoring runs today."
Edwardsville advanced to the sectional championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. The Tigers will face the winner of Thursday's Moline-Joliet West semifinal game.
Belleville West coach Lee Meyer saw the Maroons' magic finally run out in a third straight loss to Edwardsville this season.
"I'm really proud of our players and I'm proud of the senior and the leadership they had," Meyer said. "In the second half of the season when they could have cashed it in and really felt sorry for themselves, they gutted it up and came back strong.
"If you would have asked a lot of people in the area if we'd have been in the sectional, a lot of people would have doubted that. But we didn't doubt ourselves and as much as you want to win that game, you've just got to credit Edwardsville and that pitching staff."
The Tigers' Fahd Shakeel hit the first of his two doubles leading off the second and scored on a triple by Fisher. Bailey Zimmer's squeeze bunt chased another run home to make it 2-0.
"Guys that can do different things really contributed, because I always tell our guys I want as many things in my back pocket as possible," Funkhouser said. "It was a just a lot of guys doing their thing -- and the same thing with Lloyd on the mound and guys making plays behind him."
Edwardsville tacked on another run in the fourth, then got five more in the fifth against Beine and reliever Brendan Saak.
Jackson's three-run bomb off Saak made it 6-0 and Collin Clayton's two-run single put things further out of reach.
Lloyd came up big early when West had runners in scoring position in four straight innings, making the pitches he needed every time.
"It was hard to center a ball up off of him," Meyer said. "We had a hard time when he came on in relief up at their place. I give all the credit to them, the five hits that we got, we earned. We worked hard to get those and we had some others that could have dropped they made nice plays on."
The best was a leaping, diving grab by Tigers right fielder Austin Werner in the fourth to rob Saak of at least a double.
"I just felt like the defense behind me was exceptional today," said Lloyd, who allowed five hits and struck out six.