After scoring 47 runs in their previous three games, the Swansea/Fairview Heights Giants continued their relentless assault on opposing pitchers Friday at the American Legion Fifth Division Tournament.
The Giants sent 12 men to the plate during a seven-run uprising in the first inning on the way to a 10-0, seven-inning victory over Murphysboro in the championship.
"I've got to give all the credit to the players number one, and number two (assistant coach) Scott Lanxon has been working with our hitters and he's done a really god job with getting them aggressive," Giants manager Craig Steiner said. "Derek Steiner has been working with our pitchers and just has them dialed in right now. They're all just playing the best ball they've played all year."
Swansea/Faiview Heights (32-9) will face Galesburg at 3 p.m. Wednesday in a first-round game at the state tournament at Lloyd Meyer Field in Arlington Heights.
"We just stuck with the hitting approach and it carried over," Giants shortstop Tanner Hudson said. "It was very loose after the first inning."
Tyler Scimio helped set a winning tone for the Giants before the game even began when he won a long stare-down against three Murphysboro players after the national anthem.
The players all stood on the baselines in front of their dugouts refusing to move as teammates brought them drinks, helmets, towels and acted like they were taking pictures.
Hudson cranked up the offensive party in the first with a two-run single off Murphysboro starter Brock Goforth. Dean Gerros followed with an RBI single before Goforth walked Anthony Garza with the bases loaded to force in another run.
A sacrifice fly by Hayden Hewitt and a two-run single by Blake Deatherage left Murphysboro (26-16) staring at a 7-0 deficit not long after it had beaten the Metro-East Bears 3-0 in the semifinals.
"We stressed just working at-bats and just grinding them out all the way through the season," said Hudson, a former O'Fallon High standout who just finished his freshman season at Heartland College. "It just all kind of fit in one tournament. We decided to show up (offensively) and once we got to use metal bats, it all fit together."
Swansea/Fairview starter Brady Schanuel allowed only two hits through five shutout innings, striking out three and inducing a pair of double-play ground balls.
Miles Brunk pitched two scoreless innings of relief to close out the win as the Giants pushed across the 10th run on two Murphysboro errors and a balk in the bottom of the sixth.
Domonic Blaylock's run-scoring single in the third gave the Giants an 8-0 cushion and they cruised to victory.
"Seven runs in the first took the edge off it," Steiner said. "These guys battled, you've got to give Murphysboro credit. They lost in the first round and they came all the way back in the losers' bracket to get to the game tonight."
Murphysboro's Aiden McMahan was the only pitcher to have any success against the Giants all week at the Fifth Division Tournament. He tossed eight scoreless innings against them in the tourney opener and left with a 1-0 lead, only to see the Giants tie it in the ninth and win it in the 12th.
Murphysboro 3, Metro-East Bears 0
It was far too much McMahan in the semifinals as the Rend Lake College recruit was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs and tossed a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts.
McMahan (3-0 with five saves), a right-hander from Shawnee High, limited Metro-East to a second-inning single by Austin Stilts and another single in the fourth by Ray Bailey.
Neither team had a hit after the fourth inning.
"He pitched a good game and hit the ball well too," said Metro-East Bears manager Ken Schaake, whose team finished 24-8. "We had our opportunities but he rose to the occasion. Unfortunately we got a couple pitches up yesterday and today that hurt us and we made a couple mistakes in the field that we hadn't made all year.
"But we made them yesterday and today and unfortunately, we picked the wrong time to do that."
Gavin Ellet's RBI single gave Murphysboro a 1-0 lead in the first against Metro-East starter Dalton Archer. McMahan made it 2-0 in the second with an RBI double that scored Daryl Murphy, then increased the lead to 3-0 in the fourth with a two-out RBI single.
The Bears' best scoring chances came in the seventh when they loaded the bases on two errors and McMahan hitting a batter. McMahan struck out Jacob Skrabacz looking for the second out, then got Levi Wallace to ground into a force play at second.
"That was it, we had the opportunity there," said Schaake, whose club was trying to bounce back after being knocked into the losers' bracket the night before with a loss to Swansea/Fairview Heights. "We've had (other) games we've lost and they'd always come back well. It's a good group of kids and unfortunately it just didn't work out their way tonight."