Over the past decade, when the O’Fallon Panthers and Edwardsville Tigers have met on the baseball diamond, the outcome has had major ramifications.
Tuesday afternoon’s contest at Tom Pile Field was no exception. With the Southwestern Conference lead on the line, the Panthers blinked first, allowing Edwardsville to walk off the field with a 2-1 victory in 11 innings.
O’Fallon scored a first inning run when Kyle VanBevern, who drew a one out walk, scampered home on an Edwardsville fielding error. With Panther ace Chris Holba on the mound, the slim lead held up until the bottom of the fourth inning. Jackson led off the frame for the Tigers and deposited Holba’s first pitch over the left-center field wall, knotting the score. Holba recovered quickly, retiring the next three batters and pitching shutout baseball through the seventh inning.
Bradley Harrison relieved Holba in the eighth inning and continued to put up goose eggs on the scoreboard until the 11th. After Edwardsville tied the game in the fourth, the OTHS offense was stymied, unable to move a runner into scoring position over the last five innings.
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In the bottom of the 11th, Harrison gave up two singles—the second, by the Tigers’ No. 8 hitter, was the game winner.
The Panthers began their week’s diamond action in high gear, pounding out 10 hits against the Granite City Warriors to register a 7-1 victory. After a scoreless first frame, O’Fallon went ahead for good with a single tally in the bottom of the second. Holba spanked an RBI single through the infield, scoring Jacob Holl.
Another single run in the second doubled the Panther lead, but the OTHS batters were just warming to the task. VanBevern drove in two runs, and the Panthers scored three to increase their advantage to 5-0 at the end of the fourth. Harrison was sharp in collecting the complete game victory, allowing only four hits while striking out 11.
In other action, the hits just kept coming last Friday when coach Jason Portz’s crew hosted Civic Memorial. Sophomore Max Schaefer gave up a first inning run to the visiting Eagles, but after that the O’Fallon hurler was super. He fanned six batters while walking only two. Schaefer received more than enough run support from his teammates when the OTHS batters erupted for eight runs in their first at-bat.
Lead-off batter Dillon Weiss began the Panther hit parade with a sharp single up the middle. VanBevern chased Weiss home with a double into the gap in right center. Harrison, Brad Snyder and Holba banged out consecutive hits, and the rout was on.
Holba, VanBevern, Snyder and Jackson Penrod combined for nine hits and eight RBI’s. O’Fallon continued to put runners on base after the eight-run first, scoring another run in the second and two more in the third to give them a double-digit 11-1 lead which allowed the Panthers to wrap up the victory in five innings.