O’Fallon’s small-ball approach produced big results Friday.
The Panthers sent 10 men to the plate and erupted for six runs in the third inning, leading them to an 8-3 victory over Mascoutah in a nonconference baseball game at Blazier Field.
The inning included four singles, two walks, a sacrifice bunt, a sacrifice fly and a stolen base. The Indians aided the Panthers with an error, a balk and a passed ball.
“We put some pressure on them,” O’Fallon coach Jason Portz said. “That’s one thing we’ve been trying to do more of. I mean, we’ve hit three home runs this year. If we’re going to stand up there and think we’re going to swing from our heels and be able to be productive, we’re not going to score a lot of runs. ... I feel like we did a good job today.”
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O’Fallon (22-3), ranked No. 1 in the Belleville News-Democrat’s large-school poll, has outscored its opponents 26-5 in winning its last three games.
Mascoutah, which led 3-1 after 2 1/2 innings, slipped to 18-5.
“We played a pretty good ballgame except one-half inning,” Mascoutah coach Don Eddy said. “Unfortunately, you’ve got to play all seven innings. They really took advantage of that one-half inning. We had two or three plays we could have made. We didn’t make them. They really compete at the plate.”
The Panthers had eight hits, three of them by senior catcher Chase Hackstadt, the No. 9 hitter. It was the first three-hit game of the season for Hackstadt, who also drove in two runs.
“I just really tried to shorten up my swing as much as I could and focus on putting the ball in play,” Hackstadt said. “Our coach talked a lot about that, just having good at-bats. That’s what I tried to do up there today, and it resulted in three hits.”
Hackstadt’s run-scoring single made it 3-2 and was followed by RBI singles by juniors Quinn Lowery and Hayden Lowery. Junior Brayden Arnold drove in a run with a fielder’s choice, junior Jacob Dreyer had a sacrifice fly and the final run scored on a passed ball. All the damage came against Indians sophomore left-hander Logan Bibb (7-1).
“Chase had two hits in April,” Portz said. “He struggled. For that kid to keep his composure says a lot about what kind of kid he is. His batting practice has been good; his preparation has been good. I’m happy that he’s able to get rewarded a little bit.”
Arnold (6-0), a right-hander, worked four innings for the victory. He allowed three runs (earned), walked four and struck out three.
After Mascoutah gathered five hits in the first two innings, Arnold and junior Jasyn Miller combined to set down 14 of the final 18 hitters. The Indians' only hit in the final five innings was a single by senior Noah Blakely with one out in the seventh.
The game ended when Blakely was called out by the plate umpire for interference on a late slide at second, handing O’Fallon a 1-6-3 double play.
“Our approach the first several innings was pretty good,” Eddy said. “Then as the game went on, we were trying to pull everything. We weren’t going with the pitch and hitting the ball the other way. We’ve got to put good at-bats together all game, not just for three or four innings. We’ve got to keep competing and keep getting better.”