One out from a victory Thursday, the Collinsville Kahoks suddenly found themselves in a perilous seventh-inning situation.
Granite City scored once and had the tying runs at second and third with two outs, but senior Nick Petty quashed the rally by retiring senior Ryan Steen on a roller to third to preserve Collinsville’s 4-2 victory in a Southwestern Conference baseball game.
“I’m glad we found a way to get it done,” Kahoks coach Pete Trapp said of his team’s Senior Day win. “I’m happy for our guys, the way we did that. (Granite City is) a competitive baseball team and they’ve got a lot of good things that they can do. We found a way to get it done.
“This is important for us because we’ve had some ups and downs. We’re on a little bit more of an up and hopefully we can keep that up as we get into the playoffs.”
Petty, the Kahoks’ second reliever, earned the save. The victory went to junior left-hander Parker Marchbanks (2-3), who allowed one run (earned) on seven hits in five innings. Senior Zack Schaefer threw a scoreless sixth to get the ball to Petty.
“Parker did a great job,” Trapp said. “He threw a lot of strikes, which he’s struggled with at times. But he threw a lot of strikes, he had all his pitches working and he competed. There were a lot of good things he did. Zack Schaefer did a great job coming in – and Nick Petty. Both those guys came in and did what they needed to do.”
Collinsville (15-13, 6-7 SWC) scored two unearned runs in the first against junior right-hander Sam Watson (3-4). One run scored on an error and another came home on a double play.
The Kahoks extended their lead to 4-0 in the third on senior Sean Edrington’s two-run double that followed a walk by senior Mitch Reising and a single by Marchbanks.
Watson was largely effective, however, as he changed speeds throughout the game and kept Granite City (8-21, 1-12) in the contest. Watson allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits, walked two and struck out four. He retired 11 of the final 13 Collinsville hitters he faced.
“We don’t make a couple of plays in the first inning, and that puts up behind the 8-ball,” Warriors coach Scott Smallie said. “Then all of a sudden, our pitcher settles down and throws a great game the rest of the game. Then it looks like nothing and we get runners on second and third and a big hit (is all we need).
“But it’s kind of been the story of our year. We’re just one big hit away from rallying and winning some games. That’s why our record is what it is.”
Petty struck out senior Sam Dean to open the seventh, but senior Carter Hall singled. Senior Bruce Drennan’s grounder forced Hall at second, but junior Gabe Jarman reached on a fielding error by Kahoks senior third baseman Alex Caputo to put runners at first and second.
Senior D.J. Miller, a Mississippi recruit, followed with an RBI single to left and advanced to second on a throw to third. Caputo was challenged again on Steen’s grounder, but he made a clean pickup and a strong throw to first to end the game.
“What’s cool about the way the game of baseball works out, sure enough, who does the ball come back to? It comes back to Alex,” Trapp said. “It wasn’t an out-of-the-ordinary play, but sometimes when it’s in your head, that’s the toughest play to make. He found a way to block that out and throw the ball across.”
Even though the Warriors have struggled, Smallie said they are not giving in.
“We’re just trying to battle and win some ballgames and get it on the right track for regionals,” Smallie said. “We’ve got a chance, just as much as anybody, to go in and win a couple of games in the regional.
“The seniors are going to put their uniforms on six more times. We’re really stressing and telling them, ‘You know what? You’re going to miss this. Right now, you’re in the middle of it, but when it’s all said and done, you’re going to miss it.’ We’re trying to keep them playing hard, keep them working hard and work toward the regional.”