A high, gray sky and early-spring wind put a chill on everything on the Belleville East baseball field expect Lancer pitcher Brady Schanuel's arm.
Throwing more like it was the middle of June, the East senior struck out seven and walked none in a 3-0 shutout victory over Mascoutah.
"His slider wasn't really working today so we had take that out as a whole," said East junior catcher Drew Millas. "But his fastball was located very well and his curve ball was breaking. Brady works really hard through the winter, so his stuff is usually good at the start of the year."
East (3-0) scored the only run it needed in the second inning when Schanuel led off with a walk. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, to third on an error, and scored on a second wild pitch from Mascoutah starter Noah Kraljev
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Kraljev was otherwise as sharp as Schanuel. In five full innings, he allowed just the one run on three scattered hits, while striking out three and walking one.
"He threw a great game today," said Mascoutah coach Don Eddy, whose team fell to 2-2. "He mixed up speeds, mixed up locations — we couldn't have asked for anything else.
"They got their first run and didn't even have a hit. That's obviously not something we were happy about."
That one run was all Schanuel needed.
"My defense has been really good," he said. "I can trust them and just throw strikes."
The Lancer defense gave him plenty of help Wednesday.
Still a one-run game in the top of the sixth, Mascoutah put the tying run on first when Noah Dressler singled to lead off the inning.
Millas, who had earlier gunned down Mascoutah would-be base stealers Brendan Schanz and Chase Barnes, picked Dressler off to put down the threat before it could take traction.
"Any time your catcher can throw guys out, it can help keep your pitcher's pitch count down and gets some momentum for your team," said East coach Todd Blomberg.
In the seventh, with a runner on first base and nobody out, East first baseman Nick Martin turned a force out at first into a double play with a strike to shortstop Alex Phillips, who tagged out Mascoutah's Wyatt Elbe as he tried to advance.
"He executed that perfectly," said Blomberg. "That was a big two outs for us late in the game."
The Lancers scored two additional runs in the bottom of the sixth off Mascoutah reliever Nick Mueller.
Millas led off the inning with an infield single, stole second, then scored on an RBI double to deep center field by first baseman Nick Martin. East third baseman Mitch Harlan lined the very next pitch up the middle to drive home Martin.
The Lancers might have gotten more, but Shanz, the Indians' shortstop, killed the rally diving deep behind second base to rob Alex Phillips of an RBI single.
"Their pitcher had us on the ropes a lot of the day, but we were able to string some hits together late to get a little cushion," said Blomberg. "Brady with a three-run cushion is something I'm very comfortable with against anybody."
Schanz, Chase Barnes, Dressler and Kraljev accounted for Mascoutah's four hits.
Schanuel also singled for East.