Althoff baseball coach Randy Wells after loss to Alton Marquette
The lights went out on Althoff’s baseball season Wednesday.
Top-seeded Alton Marquette broke open a tight game with a four-run sixth Wednesday night and handed the ninth-seeded Crusaders a 7-3 loss in the semifinals of the Class 2A Althoff Regional at Whitey Herzog Field.
Althoff (8-15) was down to its final strike when the lights, which were on a timer, went out at 9 p.m. After an 18-minute delay, power was restored. The Crusaders tacked on an unearned run but could do no further damage against the Explorers (21-10).
Marquette will play Gillespie (17-8) in the championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Miners defeated Wood River 10-9 in the other semifinal.
“I just told the kids, ‘You’ve got nothing to hang your head (about),’” Althoff coach Randy Wells said. “We’re a young team that I thought achieved more than what people thought we would with seven freshmen in the lineup pretty much the whole year. ... We didn’t have one selfish player.
“Until that one crazy (sixth) inning, we were in that game, and we were battling. I thought Peyton Whitehead pitched an unbelievable game for a freshman. To show that kind of character has got me excited. I’m sad the season’s over. This one hurts a little bit just because I thought the kids had a chance until that crazy inning.”
Marquette scored two in the first against Whitehead. Althoff got within 2-1 against Marquette’s Mike Neel in the fourth, but the Explorers answered with a run to make it 3-1.
Althoff’s deficit was 3-2 entering the last of the sixth when the Explorers sent 10 men to the plate and created breathing room. The big hits were a two-run single by Zach Weinman and a two-run double by Brady McAfee that took a bad hop and hit Crusaders third baseman Jack Ysursa in the face.
Ysursa was forced to leave the game and was expected to be checked for a concussion.
“The kids played great, and they responded,” Marquette coach Tim Fahnestock said. “I challenged them, and they stepped up.”
Neel had two strikes on Althoff pinch-hitter James Simoneaux with two outs in the seventh, but Simoneaux took two close pitches and drew a walk to extend the game.
Reliever Nick Hemann was warming when the lights went out. When play resumed, Althoff’s Connor Sheehan reached on an error by Explorers center fielder John Blachford, allowing Jack Toenjes to score an unearned run. Josh Dima flied to center to end the game.
Neel allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in 6 2/3 innings, with three walks and seven strikeouts. Whitehead permitted seven runs (five earned) on nine hits, also in 6 2/3 innings. He walked five and struck out six.