Edwardsville senior Andrew Yancik took control early and never released his grip.
The right-hander threw a complete-game one-hitter Saturday to lead the third-seeded Tigers over second-seeded Belleville West 5-1 in the championship game of the Class 4A Edwardsville Regional. Yancik retired 18 hitters in a row between the first and seventh innings.
“I had all the confidence in the world that I was going to go out there and give it my all and have a game like I did,” said Yancik (4-1), who walked two and struck out seven prior to graduation ceremonies. “I kind of forgot about graduation a little bit during the game. Trying to focus on the game before graduation was key for me.”
Edwardsville staked Yancik to a first-inning lead when sophomore Dalton Wallace stroked a two-out, two-run double to left against Maroons senior left-hander Jack Lanxon (7-2).
Yancik surrendered an RBI single to West senior Buddy Gore that made it 2-1 in the first, then set down 18 straight before Lanxon walked to open the seventh.
Yancik, however, shut the door with a strikeout of senior Ty Shylanski before junior Nick Westerheide rapped into a 4-3 double play. Yancik, who threw 85 pitches, faced the minimum 21 hitters after Gore’s single. The Maroons (22-11) sent just 23 batters to the plate overall.
“The location of my pitches was the ultimate factor,” Yancik said. “They didn’t hit a lot of balls square. That was the key factor to the good game I had. I was just taking it pitch by pitch, batter by batter, not really paying attention to the grand scheme of things. That first inning, when Dalton hit that double, was huge.”
Edwardsville (30-7) will meet O’Fallon (32-5) in the semifinals of the Bloomington Sectional at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Woodland Park in Collinsville.
Last year, the Maroons defeated Edwardsville 8-4 to win the regional. West then swept the Tigers during the regular season en route to the Southwestern Conference title.
“I don’t get into that as much,” Tigers coach Tim Funkhouser said. “Belleville West has done a great job. They beat us those three times. We have great respect for them. They do a great job at West, and to roll through the conference like they did this year says a lot.”
Funkhouser credited Yancik.
“All hitters have different areas they can be pitched to, and Yancik did a great job of making pitches,” he said. “Our defense looked pretty good because he was getting them off-balanced and having some balls (hit) off the end of the bat or mishit into the outfield.”
Lanxon departed after four innings and 101 pitches. He allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits, with eight walks and six strikeouts.
Edwardsville extended its lead to 4-1 in the second on a sacrifice fly by senior Dylan Burris and an error, then took a 5-1 advantage in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk.
“We didn’t hit, we didn’t pitch, we didn’t make good choices on defense. It came back and burned us,” Maroons coach Todd Baltz said. “It was the wrong kind of game to do that in. You’re not going to win when you make mistakes like that.”
West hit just five balls out of the infield against Yancik. Four of them were flyouts to left.
“(Yancik) was in and out, up and down,” Baltz said. “He got in on our hands a lot. We just couldn’t make the adjustments. You tip your hat to him. We certainly didn’t get much going.
“They’re a good team. They’ve won a lot of games. We didn’t have our best day today.”