West baseball beats Granite City to advance to regional title game
Belleville West hasn’t been known for its power this season.
But the Maroons busted out the big bats Wednesday as they walloped four home runs in a resounding 13-1, five-inning victory over Granite City in the semifinals of the Class 4A Edwardsville Regional. West entered the game with just two homers.
Senior Ty Shylanski homered in his first two at-bats, and senior Jack Lanxon and junior Hunter Grupe hit one apiece as second-seeded West (22-10) marched into the championship game against third-seeded Edwardsville (29-7) at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Maroons swept two games from the Tigers in the regular season en route to the Southwestern Conference title.
“We came out swinging the bats. We hope we can do that every game,” Maroons coach Todd Baltz said, adding that the four homers “doesn’t happen too often for us.”
“If you’ve seen our field,” Baltz said, “it never happens there. The wind was blowing out a little bit and had a little drift to it. But all those balls were hit pretty hard. It was good to see.”
Shylanski and Lanxon were a combined 5-for-6 with eight RBIs. Shylanski’s two home runs, a solo blast in the first and a two-run shot off the scoreboard in left-center in the second, gave him a team-leading four. Lanxon’s three-run homer in the first was his first.
“It was perfect for hitting home runs today,” said Lanxon, who also had a two-run triple. “Hitting at our field really humbles you. We don’t hit a lot of home runs. But here, it’s really fun. This was exactly what we needed. It will give us a little confidence.”
The Maroons finished with 16 hits against Granite City pitchers Cade Bartling and James Marler. Lanxon was 3-for-3 with five RBIs, while Shylanski, Grupe, sophomore Will Lanxon, senior Buddy Gore and juniors Ethan Buss and Austin Valerius had two hits apiece.
West scored five in the first, two in the second, four in the third and two in the fourth.
Granite City finished 9-24.
West senior Sam Bernosky (5-1) pitched three scoreless and hitless innings for the victory, striking out four. Senior Jake Jenkins worked the final two innings, allowing a run on two hits with six strikeouts.
“Sam pitched well,” Baltz said. “He kept the ball down and worked the edges. He’s been pretty good the second half of the season for us. We’re glad to see that he’s stepped up.”