The Freeburg Midgets got muscle from their offense and finesse from their pitcher.
Together they yielded a 6-1 win over Central and another leg up in the run for a Cahokia Conference, Mississippi Division championship.
The Midgets pounded out nine hits, including five in a four-run fifth inning rally, while senior pitcher Nolan Maue scattered five hits through seven full innings and the win.
"I had no idea who was going to come and throw against us today, but wow, Maue did a great job," said Central coach Kevin Crask. "His performance is the perfect example that if you can hit spots and stay on the corners, you're going to win ball games and keep the hitters off balance."
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Maue struck out seven and walked just two in the game. Central only twice had more than one runner on base in an inning, just two of which advanced past second base.
"Nolan is a senior who kind of sat by the side until this year and has really come along and given us some quality innings," Freeburg coach Drew Gericke said. "He's not going to over power anybody, but he's efficient, he hits his spots, gets some movement on his pitches, and gets ground ball outs. That's what he did today."
Freeburg improves to 19-2 overall and remains a perfect 7-0 in conference play. With a win, Central (11-11) could have separated itself from the middle of the conference pack — where four teams are tied with three losses —and drawn itself to within a game of the Midgets in the standings.
Maue not only gave his team the victory Friday, his complete game preserved some pitching depth for the full-week of games approaching. The Midgets face conference rivals Carlyle, Red Bud and Wesclin, as well as Valmeyer and New Athens all before the end of next weekend.
"We had three conference games this week and for Nolan to go seven innings after that was fantastic," said Gericke. "Looking back, I think we used four pitchers in three games, which is huge. Next week we have six games in six days so we need all our pitching."
Freeburg took the early lead with an unearned run off Central starter Trevor Kohrmann. Left fielder Cody Siebenberger reached on an error then scored on a double by cleanup hitter Keegan Baxmeyer.
The Midgets added another run in the fourth when Ross Keleher singled, advanced to second on an error, and scored on a two-out, two-strike hit by Ty Dill.
Kolby Schulte led off the bottom of the fourth for Central with a single. He stole second and third base, both without throws, and scored on a ground out. Mitchell Rule got the RBI to cut the Freeburg lead to 2-1.
But Freeburg opened the lead in the fifth with four straight hits to start the inning including a leadoff double by Siebenberger and RBI hits by Baxmeyer, Derricke Rozycke and Michael Smith. Will Hogan's two-out single drove home Smith to close out the scoring.
"I just got done telling the guys we have not had a game where we hit one through nine, which is unusual for a team to be where we are now," said Gericke. "But I see it coming along at the right time of the year and if it does I really like our chances. They've got it in them."
Central lost three runners on bases. Maue picked off a pair in rundowns in the third and fifth innings and Dillon Smith was hit by a batted ball between second and third on an otherwise well-executed hit-and-run.
The Cougars received a solid effort by sophomore pitcher Carter Truong, who relieved Kohrmann with nobody out in the fifth. He gave up the RBI single to Rule, but retired every other batter he faced and striking out the side in the seventh.
"Our sophomore group of Kohrmann, Troung, and (Jack)Strieker have done a tremendous job for us this year," said Crask. "We are not deep in the upper classes pitching-wise, so we have to lean on those sophomores. They have done a tremendous job learning and have really been able to help us."