With eight shutout wins so far this season, the Mascoutah pitching staff has done its part to cover for a sometimes inconsisent offense.
But the Indians' hitters did their pitching staff a good turn against Triad Wednesday with a sixth inning rally to preserve another gem by senior right-hander Noah Kraljev.
Mascoutah scored all of its runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to secure a 5-1 win over the Knights.
Kraljev went the distance, allowing one unearned run on five hits. He struck out eight and walked two.
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"Anytime you can come out in a conference game and give up just one unearned run, you've done a pretty good job," said Mascoutah coach Don Eddy. "Noah was the bright spot for sure, until that sixth inning when our hitters woke up."
The rally wasted a good start by Triad junior Gavin Gibbs, who had Mascoutah shut out on four hits through five innings.
But he'll have to take the loss, having been charged with three runs, two of them earned, in the Mascoutah sixth.
Noah Dressler reached on an error to get things started. Austin Wombacher reached and Wyatt Elbe walked to load the bases. Outfielder Chase Barnes doubled over the left fielder's head to drive home two.
Two more runs scored on a misplayed hit down the third base line by Kraljev.
"Gavin pitched really well for us and went deep," said Triad coach Jesse Bugger. "We didn't make make plays for him early in the innings. When you get toward the end of his pitch count, you need defense to make some plays. And it's a little bit tougher each time through the order. You have to give Mascoutah credit for hanging in and battling."
Kraljev struggled in the top of the seventh, allowing the first two Triad hitters on by hitting one and walking the other. But he struck out Mack Langdon and got John Mcgee and Zach Kraabel out on pop flies to center field.
He improves to 2-2 on the season and drops his earned run average below 3.00.
"My fastball was working pretty good, breaking balls were all strikes most of the time, and my changeup was really hot today," Kraljev said. "I basically threw a lot of strikes which helped and the five runs in the sixth helped a lot."
Also getting hits for Mascoutah were Brendan Schanz, Jeff Hightower, Mitchell Waeltz and Daniel Milas, who had two hits.
Triad falls to 5-8 with the loss.
"We are young, but at some point we have to stop using that as an excuse," said Bugger, who has just three seniors on his roster. "But they do fight. You have to give Mascoutah hitters the credit for hanging in there and battling. "