One swing of the bat changed everything Tuesday for the Edwardsville Tigers.
Two batters after a critical call went against the Tigers, senior Cole Hampton stroked a two-out, two-run double past third that lifted them to an 11-9 victory over Belleville West in a wild and occasionally sloppy Southwestern Conference baseball game.
"Our guys did a great job of continuing to battle," said Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser, whose club trailed 5-1 after four innings before scoring five in the fifth, three in the sixth and two in the seventh. "As the game went on, we continued to take tough at-bats, and that's something we've been struggling with. And then we were able to hit with runners in scoring position."
Edwardsville improved to 9-2 overall and 3-0 in the SWC with its fifth consecutive victory. West, which scored four in the sixth to pull into a 9-9 tie, fell to 5-8 and 1-3. It was the Maroons' first regular-season loss to the Tigers since May 3, 2016.
Junior Grant Schaefer (2-0), the Tigers' third pitcher, was the winner. He retired West in order in the fourth and fifth, allowed four runs (three earned) in the fifth, then set down three of four hitters in the seventh, the last two on strikeouts.
"It was a back-and-forth game," West coach Todd Baltz said. "They gave us a few early on, we gave a few back. We just couldn't stop them. They kept swinging the bats."
The game was tied at 9 in the seventh when the Tigers put runners at first and second with one out against senior Nick Westerheide. Senior Reid Hendrickson hit a soft fly ball to left that was dropped by Maroons senior Alandis Harris.
Harris, however, stayed with the play, and his throw to third forced sliding sophomore Jacob Kitchen, who appeared to be safe. Funkhouser contested the call to no avail, and instead of the bases being loaded with one out, there were runners at first and second with two outs. But after junior Jack Cooper walked, Hampton's double plated the winning runs.
"That was unfortunate because we thought we earned a lot more than we had prior to that point," Funkhouser said of the controversial call. "For (Hampton) to overcome that was big for us."
Cooper had two hits and two walks, while junior Josh Ohl had two hits, two RBIs and a stolen base — even though he wasn't in the Tigers' original starting lineup. He was pressed into service when junior Joe Copeland suffered a pregame shoulder injury.
Edwardsville overcame its 5-1 deficit with five runs in the fifth against West sophomore left-hander Joey Kossina, with junior Ben Basarich's two-run double being the big blow.
"Joey pitched very well. He just kind of hit a wall in the fifth," Baltz said. "We were hoping he could get through it. He pitched really, really well the first four innings. Then we were going to our relievers. They did all right, but they've got to throw more strikes."
The Maroons had taken their four-run lead with a five-run second against junior Jonathon Yancik, an inning that included three consecutive bases-loaded walks and a bases-loaded hit by pitch. Another run scored on a wild pitch.
Junior Alex Bernard and senior Eden Buss had two hits apiece for West.