With one big swing of his bat Tuesday, senior Maverick McSparin took the Edwardsville Tigers for a ride.
McSparin clubbed a two-run homer as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and the Tigers added two more runs for good measure in a 4-0 victory over Collinsville in a Southwestern Conference game at Fletcher Field.
McSparin turned on a 2-2 fastball from Kahoks senior Justin Anson, hitting a high drive that drifted over the left-field wall and helped the Tigers improve to 16-0 overall and 6-0 in the SWC. It was McSparin’s first home run of the season.
“I’m not usually one to try to hit homers, but today I did,” McSparin said. “I thought it was a big popup at first, so I was just going to run it out and see where it went. I saw the outfielder at the fence and I’m like, ‘All right, it went over, home run.’ I didn’t think it was going to go out, personally. It just did somehow.”
It marked the 500th win at Edwardsville for coach Tim Funkhouser.
Anson (5-1) had held the Tigers in check on five hits through six innings. But Edwardsville senior Mitchell Krebs led off the seventh with an infield single before McSparin, batting for junior Joe Wallace, delivered the key blow of the game.
“He put a good swing on a pitch that was on the inner part of the plate,” Funkhouser said. “He hit it right where he needed to hit it. That really bailed us there.
“He’s got good power. He’s got a couple of doubles already and he just hit that home run. He’s a versatile guy. Last week, he pitched an inning in relief for us. He worked at catcher (Monday) and he’s also been playing first base. And he can play outfield. ... He’s a nice bat to have. It was a big, clutch hit from him, and for us to add a couple more after that was important as well.”
Collinsville coach Pete Trapp said Anson could have been close to getting a better result.
“The ball was up a little bit,” Trapp said. “If he would have got it up a little bit and over his hands, I think we’re in a better position. It wasn’t over by much, but it got over. That’s baseball.”
McSparin said Funkhouser told him in the bottom of the sixth that he would bat for Krebs or Wallace. It wound up being Wallace.
“It was good to come in off the bench,” McSparin said. “I got my legs looseand I felt good. I just came in and did the job for the team. You’ve got to be ready.”
Senior right-hander Daniel Lloyd threw five scoreless innings, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out seven. Senior Aaron Jackson threw two scoreless innings in relief to pick up the win, retiring six of seven hitters and striking out two.
“We’ve had great pitching all year,” Funkhouser said.
Jackson also drove in the two extra seventh-inning runs with a single against junior Bryan Peek, runs that were charged to Anson, who allowed a double to senior Jordan Hovey and hit junior Collin Clayton with a pitch after the home run by McSparin.
Collinsville’s best opportunity came in the fourth. With one out, senior Aaron Ortiz singled to center. The next batter, senior Cody Oberkfell, sliced a drive down the right-field line, but senior Matt Zielonko made a sliding catch to rob Oberkfell of at least a single.
Ortiz was then thrown out attempting to steal second, ending the inning.
“That was probably going to be a double or at least first and third,” Funkhouser said. “That was a big, clutch play. It just shows the way he’s come along. He’s been our most consistent player, and he’s a guy who wasn’t at that point last year. It’s fun to watch.”
Collinsville (8-8, 2-4) got an infield single by senior Dylan McEwen in the first, a single by Ortiz in the fourth and an infield single by junior Brandon Harris in the fifth.
“I think everyone’s hitting is lacking against Edwardsville’s pitching. They do a great job,” Trapp said. “They mix up their pitches, they get people off-balanced. They did that with us today. I thought we had some good at-bats. The results weren’t there at times, but I’m proud of the way my guys went out there and battled.”
Junior Jake Garella had three hits to lead the Tigers’ 10-hit attack. Hovey added two doubles. Edwardsville stole six bases, four of them coming in the seventh.