Because it was a lower seed than Dupo, the Althoff baseball team on Monday was forced to face the Tigers on their home field in the opener of its own Class 2A regional.
The ninth-seeded Crusaders earned a chance to play at least one more game at Whitey Herzog Field in Belleville, however, as they rallied past eighth-seeded Dupo 8-4.
Althoff (8-14) trailed 4-2 after five innings, but scored one in the sixth and five in the seventh to reach the semifinals at 4 p.m. Wednesday against top-seeded Marquette (20-10).
“We had guys on and we got a little aggressive early. We didn’t execute some bunt plays and had some guys picked off,” said Althoff coach Randy Wells, whose team had two runners picked off and another caught stealing in the fourth and fifth innings.
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“But we got some big hits and were able to scratch some runs across,” Wells said. “Timely hitting. That’s what it takes at this time of the year, and the pitching was outstanding.”
Right-hander Jack Ysursa went the distance, allowing four runs (one earned). He walked one and struck out five.
In the seventh, Josh Dima’s bloop hit over Dupo’s tightened infield put Althoff ahead 5-4, and the Crusaders tacked on three more on RBIs by Ysursa, Matt Schroeder and Gavin Strieker. Connor Sheehan had the game-tying hit, a blooper similar to Dima’s. Althoff sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning.
All the damage came against senior Austin Francis, who was the catcher for senior right-hander Taylor Stanek the first six innings. Francis walked two and allowed six hits in the inning.
“He gave up the leadoff walk (to Jack Bruenning),” Dupo coach Nathan Schmersahl said. “That’s what he said: ‘If you walk people, you’re going to start trouble.’ He struggled keeping the ball down, we pulled the infield in and they hit little bloop singles over it.
“But (Francis) was a great part of this team and we’re going to miss him a lot next year. We’ll miss Taylor Stanek as well. We’ll miss all our seniors.”
Stanek permitted three runs (earned) on five hits in six innings, using 97 pitches. He walked four and struck out two. He continued to be effective despite taking a line drive off his pitching hand in the fourth, a shot off the bat of Ysursa.
Dupo finished 6-17.
Dima, a freshman, led Althoff with three hits, including a double, and scored three runs. He also chipped in with a nice running catch to throttle a Dupo threat in the third. Ysursa and Jack Toenjes also had two hits.
Jarrett Dixon had three hits for Dupo. Francis had two hits, including a two-run double that gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead in the fifth.