Michael Chaffin singled in Jaydon Stewart for the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning as Mascoutah baseball edged Salem 2-1 on Wednesday in the Class 3A Salem Sectional.
The leadoff hitter and Indians catalyst, Stewart doubled off Wildcats reliever Nathan Roth and went to third on a wild pitch. Chaffin, whose single in the seventh inning in a regional semifinal against Triad last week kept the Indians season alivve, singles sharply to right field, scoring Stewart.
“I guess you could say I like pressure situations,” Chaffin said. “He (Roth) threw me a fastball on the outer half of the plate. I just went with the pitch and took it to the opposite field.”
The Indians’ win sets up an all-Mississippi Valley Conference final against Civic Memorial at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Eagles defeated Mount Vernon 4-3 in nine innings in the first semifinal Wednesday
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
While Chaffin’s hit won the game, Kraljev kept Mascouah in the game. With an overpowering fastball and good curve ball, the Indians senior ace flirted with a perfect game for the first six innings, then pitched out of a jame in the top of the ninth inning.
Salem had the potential go-ahead run on third base with nobody out in the top of the ninth inning. But reaching back for a little extra, Kraljev responded by striking out the next three hitters to end the threat.
Kraljev pitched all 10 innings, throwing 105 pitches.
“That should tell you sharp he was and the kind of command Jordan had all night,” Indians coach Don Eddy said. “It was as good a pitching performance in a high school game that I’ve seen in a long time. And to strike out the side with the bases loaded with the potential go-ahead runner on third base... that was huge.”
Managing only one hit off Salem starter Trevor Banning — a two out single by Anthony Moll in the second inning — the Indians took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Austin Wombacher led off with a walk and stole second base.
Banning uncorked a wild pitch, which allowed Wombacher to advance to third base. Four pitches later, Wombacher scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Jaydon Stewart.
Kraljev retired the first 17 hitters, but the Wildcats finally got on the scoreboard with two outs in the sixth inning. Dylan Owens, the No. 9 hitter, ruined Kraljev’s perfect game with a sharp single to left field and scored when Brenden Boles doubled to left.
“I guess I was a little upset when they got the first hit,” Kraljev said, laughing. I knew I probably wouldn’t get the no-hitter anyway. I was tired late in the game. I just tried to do my job.”