Prep Baseball & Softball

Big first inning sparks Edwardsville past Alton in regional play

With two outs and no runners on base Wednesday, Edwardsville’s first inning against Alton appeared to be going nowhere.

Four batters later, the third-seeded Tigers had a 4-0 lead that paved the way for their 5-3 victory over the fifth-seeded Redbirds in the semifinals of the Class 4A Edwardsville Regional.

Senior Andrew Yancik did the biggest damage, clouting a three-run homer to center against Alton junior Charles Erler. Yancik then closed out the game on the mound, striking out the final two Redbirds hitters.

“It’s hard to compare the two. They’re both just so overwhelming,” Yancik said of his three-run homer and save. “It’s the best feeling in the world. Hitting that home run to start off the game was huge. Then closing out the door at the end means a lot to me and the team. It’s hard to realize what just happened.”

Edwardsville (29-7) will play second-seeded Belleville West (22-10) in the championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Maroons eliminated the Tigers 8-4 in the regional title game last year and swept two games against them this season, 1-0 and 4-3.

“We’ve lost a couple of close ones against West, and they’ve got some competitors all around the field,” Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser said. “They’ve got some guys who like to compete. They won the Southwestern Conference, and they got us last year. They’ve gotten us the last three times. We’ll go about our business the next couple of days and look forward to the challenge.”

Alton, which lost three times to Edwardsville this season, finished 17-15.

Senior Kade Burns (8-1) was the winner for the Tigers. He pitched six innings in two separate shifts, allowing three runs on seven hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Edwardsville’s 4-0 lead was trimmed to 4-3 when senior Steven Nguyen touched Burns for a three-run homer in the third. The Redbirds, however, had just three more baserunners in the final four innings.

Senior Dylan Burris homered to right in the fourth to boost the Tigers’ lead to 5-3.

“I put it together for one at-bat,” said Burris, who struck out in his other three plate appearances. “That’s baseball. You’re not going to get a hit every time or have a good at-bat. We’re all human.”

Burris is ready to face the Maroons.

“Them beating us twice in the regular season kind of leaves you dry,” he said. “You’re wanting to come out and beat them and do everything you can to not go 0-3 against a team.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm