Just 10 days after his basketball season ended with a sectional loss to Edwardsville, Belleville West sophomore Will Lanxon is already comfortable with a bat in his hands.
Lanxon had three hits, drove in a run and scored a run Friday while senior brother Jack Lanxon got the pitching win as the Maroons handled Althoff 10-5 in their season opener at Whitey Herzog Field.
“He missed the whole first week of (baseball) practice with the basketball team, so he came out a little bit behind,” Belleville West coach Todd Baltz said of Will Lanxon. He stepped in there and had three hits today, so that’s good to see.”
Jack Lanxon, a senior headed to Truman State on a football scholarship, allowed five hits and three runs in four innings while striking out three. He also gave credit to his younger brother.
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“He’s a great player,” Jack Lanxon said. “He doesn’t have the most size, but he’s a great second baseman and shortstop and obviously he can swing the ball pretty well.”
Leading 3-2, Belleville West (1-0) blew the game open with a seven-run fourth inning that chased Althoff starter Jack Ysursa.
Will Lanxon’s RBI single got past the right fielder, and two runs scored. Then Buddy Gore followed with an RBI hit, and Jack Lanxon belted an RBI triple. Hunter Grupe also had an RBI double in the inning, while Nick Westerheide added a two-run double.
“I thought the first time through the lineup, we were a little bit jittery — trying to do too much,” Baltz said. “We were out on our front foot a little bit. The second time through the order it was different. They settled in and relaxed a little bit and put some good swings on the ball.”
Althoff (1-1) had a decent showing other than the disastrous fourth inning. The Crusaders started three freshmen and played six in the game.
“For being so young, we were pretty pleased,” Althoff coach Randy Wells said. “We had some untimely errors and some poor at-bats in the middle of the game, but other than that, I thought they hung in there and battled against a better team.
“I was pretty pleased with how we didn’t quit.”
Althoff led 1-0 in the first on a sacrifice fly by Ysursa, but Alandis Harris’ two-out, two-run double gave West a 2-1 lead in the second. After the Maroons took a 3-1 lead, an RBI double by Althoff freshman Peyton Whitehead brought his team within 3-2 before West ran away once again.
Grupe and Devin Hubbs finished up on the mound for West, while Althoff used Whitehead, senior Marvin Bateman and freshman Josh Dima after Ysursa’s exit in the fourth.
West walked eight times, and Althoff walked three times.
“Across the board our pitchers just need to throw more strikes,” Baltz said. “We got into some hitter’s counts and fell behind where we had to throw the ball over the center of the plate. That happened a few times, but I thought we responded and made some good pitches when we needed to.”
Will Lanxon was 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored for West, while Westerheide and Harris drove in two runs each.
Whitehead was 2 for 4 with an RBI double for Althoff, Ysursa was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Matt Schroeder was 2 for 3.