The old baseball adage that good pitching stops good hitting continued to ring true for the Belleville West Maroons on Wednesday against Althoff.
Senior Cal Kossina and sophomore Chad Sauls combined to limit Althoff to just two hits and Maroons made the most of their opportunities for a 2-0 win over the Crusaders in a nonconference high school baseball game.
In lowering his ERA to a microscopic 0.40 in over 17 innings, Kossina allowed just a two-out single to Keen in the second inning and struck out five before giving way to Sauls after six innings of work. Althoff sophomore Jack Ysursa greeted Sauls with a leadoff single to start the top of the seventh but when the next three Crusaders made out, West (11-4) had its fourth shutout of the season.
“The pitching has been pretty good all season and I thought Cal (Kossina) pitched well again for us today,” West coach Todd Baltz said. “He’s got pretty good velocity but I think the term pitcher really fits Cal. He’s someone who mixes his pitches, changes speeds and hits his locations. He did all of those things today.”
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Rorey Keen was nearly as sharp for Althoff (8-5). The Maroons tallied single unearned runs in the first and fifth innings, but managed only four hits against Keen who walked one and struck out one in six innings.
“Rorey pitched well. When you give up two runs in high school you should win those games. We gave them (West) a run on an error and a botched play on a bunt,’’ Althoff coach Randy Wells said. “We didn’t execute well enough to win.’’
How it went
West scored a run in the first inning when Jack Lanxon led off with a walk and wen t to second base an out later when Kossina singled. Both runners moved up a base when Wyatt Parker grounded out sharply to Althoff shortstop Jake Frazier.
Nicholas Oglesby then hit a slow roller to Frazier who, moving forward, bobbled the ball and threw late to first base, allowing Lanxon to score the first run.
Kossina and Keen then dominated over the next three innings. Althoff, which had a runner reach as far as second base only twice, threatened in the top of the third inning when with two outs Steven Toenjes reached on an error and went stole second base.
But Kossina got Jack Toenjes to pop out to end the inning.
West added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Logan Betz and Lanxon both reached without hitting the ball out of the infield. Junior Matt Sisk then bunted down the third base line where an error was committed, allowing the Maroons second run to cross the plate.
“We manufactured a couple of runs today with the bunt and just putting the ball in play a couple of times,” Baltz said. “It would be nice if we would take it upon ourselves to bunt in certain situations. But we executed when we needed too. We didn’t get a lot of hits — four — but sometimes when you make other teams make plays good things happen.’’
Good things continue to happen for the Maroons pitching staff.
In nine of its 11 wins, West pitchers have allowed two or less runs nine times. And on Wednesday, Kossina and Sauls combined for the Maroons’ impressive fourth shutout of the season.
“I felt good today. I was able to get my fastball over and get ahead of the hitters. That’s always important for me is throwing strikes,” Kossina said. “We also were able to score a couple of runs and the defense made a couple of really good plays. It was a team effort.”