Whatever frustration first-year Belleville West baseball coach Todd Baltz might have had waiting for the kind of timely offense that has eluded his Maroons much of this year was eased by his senior catcher, Jacob Wilson Saturday.
Wilson drove home four runs including a game-breaking bases-loaded double in the fifth in West's 5-2 victory over cross-town rival Althoff.
His performance at the plate helped the Maroons extend a five-game wining streak during which they have scored more runs than their previous 10 games combined.
""May be premature to say so, but we hope we're turned it in the right direction," said Baltz, who's Maroons improved to 8-14. "Our guys are competing ... and some things are starting to go our way a little bit more. We're getting hits when we need them, we're getting great pitching."
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Belleville West pitcher Matt Klosterman got credit for the win. It was just his fourth of the season, but second of the week; he defeated Collinsville Tuesday.
Against the Crusaders at Whitey Herzog Field, Klosterman nearly went the distance, lasting six and a third innings before being relieved by sophomore Luke Vallandingham. Klosterman struck out six, walked just one and allowed seven hits.
"He throws a ton of strikes and when he gets ahead of hitters he knows how to put them away," said Althoff coach Brett Isaacs. "He's got a good slider and a lot of different ways to keep batters off balance.'
In a pitching-rich Southwestern Conference, Klosterman may not be the first name that leaps to mind. But Baltz says the West senior has earned his way into company with the likes of Alton lefty Bryan Hudson and Edwardsville's Daniel Lloyd.
"He's our No. 1 and everybody knows that. He's pitched against the toughest pitchers in the conference and kept us in the games," Baltz said. "He's pitched against the toughest pitchers we've had in the conference and he's kept us in every single game. Every game he's been pitch to pitch with those other guys and you can't ask him to do any more."
At 13-8 overall, Althoff remains a threat in the South Seven Conference and in the Class 2A Dupo Regional.
Senior pitcher Ben Hankammer faced only three more than the minimum through four innings. But West scratched out the game's first run in the third when Destin Wilson led off with a single, advanced to second on Andrew Konya's sacrifice bunt, and scored on a single by shortstop Cal Kossina.
The Maroons worked to scratch out a run in the fifth.
Wyatt Parker led off with a single, Andrew Konya reached on catcher's interference and Kossina laid down a sacrifice bunt. Hankammer fielded the the bunt, but failed in his attempt to force out the lead runner at third to load the bases for Wilson with two out. Wilson hit the base of the fence in left center field to clear the bases.
"Ben (Hankammer) did a real good job painting that outside corner to me, and that's always a tough pitch to hit," Wilson said. "He left one in on me in the fifth inning and I got a hold of it real good.
"Our team is starting to get together and put the hits together when our pitching is going good."
Althoff scored its first run in the sixth when Hankammer singled and scored on a hit by Jake Frazier. But Wilson negated that run for West by singling home in the top of the seventh.
The Crusaders picked up a another run in the bottom of the seventh when lead off hitter Sam Haudrich doubled and scored on a single by Austin Keen.
"We had a couple chances where, two or three times, I thought if we could have had that big hit where we get a run or two in and we just didn't," Isaacs said. "We hit the ball, we just couldn't find a spot for it.
"That happens, though. If you keep hitting and putting the ball in play, good things happen for you, but didn't work in our way today."