Collinsville won a doubleheader of sorts Thursday morning.
The Kahoks withstood a rain delay and an ominous forecast in addition to defeating Belleville West 3-1 in a Southwestern Conference game at Fletcher Field. The game was moved to a 10 a.m. start, from 4:30 p.m., in an attempt to beat Mother Nature.
Senior right-hander Justin Anson threw a complete-game four-hitter and struck out six, while senior first baseman Cody Oberkfell was 2-for-3 with a home run as Collinsville improved to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in the SWC.
“Justin did what we asked him to do,” said Kahoks coach Pete Trapp, a Belleville West graduate. “He threw strikes and got balls to be put in play, and our defense did a good job. (Catcher) Dylan (McEwen) called a good game and we got enough runs to get the victory.”
Seniors Aaron Ortiz and Alex Caputo drove in the Kahoks’ other runs with sacrifice flies. All of the damage came against Maroons senior right-hander Jacob Eccher.
West gave Eccher a 1-0 lead in the first with a two-out run against Anson, but Collinsville loaded the bases with no outs in its half of the inning, setting up the sacrifice flies by Ortiz and Caputo. Oberkfell’s long homer to left made it 3-1 in the second and was the end of the scoring.
“He’s been struggling a little bit,” Trapp said of Oberkfell. “He made some adjustments today and I’m very proud of him. He’s a great young man. It’s always great to see good things happen to good kids, and I feel like I have a bunch of good kids.”
Oberkfell, in the No. 8 spot in the order, said he tried to simplify his approach.
“I haven’t been hitting too well lately,” said Oberkfell, who was 1-for-11 with six strikeouts entering the game. “I just shortened up my swing and stopped swinging so hard. I just made contact with it and it went out. My confidence is going up.”
Eccher was fine from that point, allowing just five harmless singles from the second through sixth. But with Anson being equally stingy, the Kahoks stayed in control.
“I just threw strikes,” said Anson, who walked just two. “I knew if they got hit, my infielders and outfielders would take them. I’ve got complete trust in my fielders.”
Eccher also threw a complete game, allowing eight hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out three.
“He settled in nicely,” said first-year Maroons coach Todd Baltz, whose team fell to 3-5 overall and 1-1 in the SWC. “But we didn’t come out of the gates real strong. We weren’t real sharp coming out. Rain delay or not, you’ve got to be ready when you step between the lines. They were and we weren’t. We’ll make a correction and we’ll be all right.”
Trapp said it wasn’t an easy mental game to overcome.
“I give my guys a lot of credit,” he said. “Every one of us went to bed last night thinking, ‘There’s no way we’re going to play this game.’ Then you wake up and you see there’s a window (of opportunity). Then it rains right at the beginning, but the next thing you know, you get it in. It’s awesome the way my guys responded mentally with the adversity (associated) with it.”
Senior Jacob Wilson ignited West’s first inning with a single ahead of senior Matt Klosterman’s walk. Senior Luke Glaeser then grounded an RBI single to left to put the Maroons ahead 1-0.
But Collinsville senior Mitch Reising singled to start the first, one of his two hits, and Eccher walked senior Ryan Hoffman and McEwen to load the bases. Ortiz’s sacrfice fly to right made it 1-1, and after junior Jordan Reichert’s bloop single again filled the bases, Caputo delivered his sacrifice fly to center to put the Kahoks ahead for good.
“You hate to see that,” Baltz said of the Maroons giving up the lead so quickly. “But even after that, we didn’t take real good at-bats. We were kind of rolling over the ball. We didn’t really drive the ball very well and we weren’t super-aggressive. It’s as much the hitters’ issue as it was the pitching. Certainly, we wanted to keep that lead. It just didn’t happen today.”
The Maroons threatened in the seventh, putting runners at first and second for senior Destin Wilson. Trapp stayed with Anson, who retired Wilson on a comebacker to end the game.
Trapp said that although the season is early, the Kahoks are laying a solid foundation. It doesn’t hurt that their pitching staff hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any game.
“The one thing so far that I’ve realized about this team is that they’re pretty relentless,” Trapp said. “They don’t like to be showed up. So if someone is going to put a run up on them, they’re going to try to come back with another one. We’ve done that mutliple times this year. I give these guys a lot of credit. They’re a lot of fun and they do a lot of good things.”
The game wasn’t without its weirdness.
West sophomore Jack Lanxon was thrown out at first by Collinsville senior right fielder Sean Edrington in the fourth. Lanxon lined a one-hopper that Edrington, playing shallow, quickly gloved and fired to first. Lanxon, running on a slow track, was out by a step.
McEwen was retired on another strange play in the fifth. His shot went off the glove of West junior first baseman Cal Kossina, but the ball rolled to second baseman Destin Wilson, who flipped the ball back to Kossina for the out.