Sauls’ gem lifts Hilgards in Metro East Firecracker Tournament

Chad Sauls threw just 75 pitches in eight shutout innings and Ty Shylanski drove in the only run to lift the Belleville Hilgards past Jefferson City 1-0 Saturday at the Metro East Firecracker American Legion Baseball Tournament.

Held to just three hits in the first seven innings by Jefferson City starter Drew Boessen, the Hilgards (20-6) put runners on first and third base with one out in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Logan Bexten.

Shylanski followed with his game-winning single as Belleville opened pool play at Whitey Herzog Field with a victory.

“What did we have? Five hits? We hit the ball hard a few times. But he (Boessen) made good pitches. Ty (Shylanski) got the big hit for us. It’s always good to start with a win,” Hilgards manager Jonathan Schweppe said.

“Chad (Sauls) was outstanding. He threw strikes, got ahead of the hitters and made them Jeff (City) put the ball in play. He has a great slider and today the change-up was working well. He kept them off-balance all day and we made the plays behind him.”

Sauls, who was 4-1 with a 0.50 ERA as a junior at Belleville West this past Spring, gave up six hits and twice stranded runners in scoring position. But throwing only five pitches in one inning and on two other occasions using only 10 pitches to retire the side, the Hilgards pitcher had a little extra energy when he needed it against Jefferson City.

“I was throwing strikes and they were swinging early in the count,” Sauls said. “I had a realy good change-up today and they were having trouble timing it. I was able to keep them of balance and my defense made the plays. Our defense has been great all year.”

Boessen, who didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, was taken out in favor of Bexten to start the bottom of the eighth inning.

Hilgards leadoff hitter Buddy Gore reached on an error to start the inning and one out later, Jack Lanxon singled to put two runners on base. Shylanski then laced his game-winning single to left field.

Pool play at the Metro East Firecracker Baseball Tournament continues Sunday at Whitey Herzog Field, Moody Park in Fairview Heights, and in Jerseyville. There will be five games at each site beginning at 10 a.m. The semifinals and title game will be played Monday at Whitey Herzog Field.