Belleville West pitcher Luke Vallandingham pitched his way out of a three-run hole, then completed the comeback with a walk-off game-winning single.
Vallandingham singled home pinch-runner Austin Guetterman with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to give the Maroons a 4-3 win over cross-town rival, Belleville East.
“We stranded the bases loaded twice during the game, so we didn’t always have the best approach in those situations,” said West coach Todd Baltz. “But we squeaked out enough key hits and it was a good win for us.”
East scored a single run on an RBI hit by Isaiah King in the second, then got a two-RBI double from Evan Lawrence to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the third.
(Luke Vallandingham) threw the ball really well overall, but they hit him hard early. Once he settled in, he was OK, which is typical. He seems to get stronger as the game goes on.
Todd Baltz, Belleville West head coach
The Maroons responded in the bottom of the third with a two-run single by Cal Kossina, whose .580 batting average entering the game ranked him fourth in the St. Louis region. He went 3-for-4 against the Lancers Thursday.
West tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, when Wyatt Parker was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring Jack Lanxon from third.
“We had two strikeouts after that or we might have blown it open right there,” Baltz said.
But Vallandingham settled into a groove after the shaky start on the mound. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits while striking out five and walking just one.
“He threw the ball really well overall, but they hit him hard early,” Baltz said. “Once he settled in, he was OK, which is typical. He seems to get stronger as the game goes on.”
Parker led off the bottom of the seventh by reaching on the Lancers’ fourth error of the game, and was replaced by Guetterman. An attempt to bunt him into scoring position failed, but Logan Betz drew a walk to put Guetterman on second and set up Vallandingham’s game-winner.
The Lancers used four pitchers in the game. Starter Cody Freppon lasted 4.1 innings allowing three runs — just one of which was earned —on five hits. He struck out one and walked two.
Jeff Caringer took the loss in two-thirds innings pitched.
West improved to 13-5 with the win. They travel to Highland Friday for a 4:15 p.m. game, then play at Edwardsville Tuesday for a Southwestern Conference showdown.
East will take a 17-8 record to Freeburg Friday at 4:30 p.m., then faces O’Fallon Tuesday at home.