High School Sports

Mental mistakes prove costly for Belleville West in loss to Edwardsville

Drake Westcott slugs a home run

Edwardsville slugger Drake Westcott hits a home run, one of the 28 he's hit in his three-year career with the Tigers.
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Edwardsville slugger Drake Westcott hits a home run, one of the 28 he's hit in his three-year career with the Tigers.

Belleville West coach Todd Baltz’s recent warnings to his Maroons baseball team became a reality Monday against the Edwardsville Tigers.

At the worst possible time.

Edwardsville pitchers Dawson Taylor and Colin Salter combined to hold the Maroons to five hits and the Tigers took advantage of several West mental and physical misplays as they regained control of the Southwestern Conference with a 5-2 win

Winners of eight of their last nine games, West entered the game Monday with a chance to tie for the SWC lead . Things looked really bright early when junior Joey Kossina, who pitched a 1-0 no-hitter against Edwardsville five days ago, and Will Lanxon led off the bottom of the first inning with hits and scored to give the Maroons a 2-0 lead.

But it didn’t last long.

Edwardsville (23-4) responded with three runs in the second inning to take a 3-2 lead and never trailed after that as it extends its lead in the SWC to two games with four league games remaining. The Tigers, who play at Belleville East on Tuesday, are 7-1 in the SWC and lead both O’Fallon (7-3) and Belleville West (5-3).

“It’s a big win for us in terms of the conference race and I think the seeds for the regional tournament need to be turned in by noon Tuesday, so this helped that too. But most of all it was big for us in that we were able to come in here and show that we able to come back and beat a good Belleville West squad,’’ Tigers coach Tim Funkhouser said.

“We probably should have pushed across a couple more runs in the second inning that would have given us a bigger lead. But Dawson (Taylor) and Collin (Salter) have been so good for us all year that even when they don’t have their A plus stuff, they are still very good.’’

Getting a diving catch from center fielder Joey Kossina, West starting and losing pitcher Caleb Harsin got out of the first inning and took a 2-0 lead into the second.

But Max Ringering and Joe Copeland started the second with hits and scored on RBIs by Joe Toscano and Hayden Moore. The Tigers added a run on a wild pitch. That play was the first of several that would come back to haunt the Maroons on this warm spring afternoon.

“It was a tough day for the Maroons. We did a lot of things wrong today,’’ Baltz said. “From not blocking the ball, to throwing the ball home from right field when we probably shouldn’t have thrown home and let their runners move up a base. We let runners move up a base way too often today.

“If we don’t do that maybe it’s a different game. But we threw the ball over the place, didn’t back up a base when we should have. Those mistakes are why this was a disappointing day today.’’

Edwardsville added a run in the fourth on an RBI by Blake Burris then added run in the sixth to increase the lead to 5-2.

West (19-5) had three hits in the seventh inning, but a baserunning blunder ended any chances of a rally.

“We had played games like this before where we gave up some things and made some mental mistakes. But we found a way to win’’ Baltz said. “I kept telling the players that those kinds of things were going to catch up to us Well, today they did.

“Those little things add up to big things. We gave them a couple of runs today and against good teams you can’t do that.’’