O'Fallon senior Nick Boone slashed a single to score Quinn Lowery for the winning run in the eighth inning Tuesday as the Panthers defeated Edwardsville 7-6 in a Southwestern Conference baseball game at Blazier Field.
Forced to extra innings when Edwardsville senior Reid Hendrickson hit a two-run home run off starting pitcher Brayden Arnold with two outs in the sixth inning, the Panthers were in business when Lowery singled to lead off the eighth, then stole second base.
Caleb Shelton then blooped a single to shallow right field to put runners on first and third base, and when Boone singled to right-center field off Tigers reliever Chase Gockel, O'Fallon had the win.
The win moves the SWC leading Panthers to 6-0 in league play and 17-1-1 for the season. But O'Fallon's win didn't come without a few anxious moments, as Edwardsville (12-5, 4-2) rallied from deficits of 4-1 and 6-4 to force extra innings.
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But on a night when they had a pair of costly base-running blunders, the Panthers still found a way to defeat the Tigers.
"I just told our guys it's about competing based in the situation that you are in. You have to put everything else that had occurred during the game behind you and just keep scrapping,'' O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said.
"We didn't have everything to our way. We didn't play the best defense, and we didn't run the bases that well. But we battled at the plate. I thought Brayden (Arnold) did a good job on the mound, and I think (reliever) Adam Drewry showed people something today by coming in and shutting them down. I'm really happy. It was a good team win.''
Drewry, a hard-throwing senior, entered the game after Hendrickson's game-tying home run. He responded by retiring all seven Edwardsville hitters he faces, striking out four.
The Tigers struck first in the top of the first when sophomore Drake Westcott hit an opposite-field home run. But O'Fallon responded quickly in its half of the inning,
Sending seven batters to the plate, the Panthers scored three times on RBIs by Arnold, Matthew Albritton and Hayden Juenger to take a 3-1 lead. Albritton, a junior, then made it 4-1 in the third inning with a solo home run.
"I thought we controlled the tempo of the game very well. But I also thought a crucial part of the game was in the first inning,'' Portz said. "Drake (Westcott) came out and did what he does when he put a ball into the batting cages to give them the lead.
"But we came right back with some good at-bats with three runs in the bottom of the inning.''
Tigers junior Joe Copeland cut the Panthers' lead to 4-3 with a two-run single in the fourth inning, and Edwardsville tied the game in the fifth when Brayden Arnold hit Josh Ohl with a pitch with the bases loaded.
"Tonight we had chances to put some innings together, and we just didn't get it done," Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser said. "We struck out 14 times. That's 14 times when we didn't put the ball in play by making contact. That's just way to many times.''
Albritton drove in his third run of the game, this one on a single, and Juenger added a sacrifice fly off Edwardsville starter Grant Schaefer in the bottom of the fifth before Hendrickson's two-run homer sent the game into extra innings.