It rained before, during and after Saturday’s Class 4A Granite City Baseball Regional championship game between Belleville East and O’Fallon.
Even pushing back the planned 4 p.m. start to 6:30 p.m. didn’t help as the teams played into the bottom of the third inning with O’Fallon leading 6-0 before the game was suspended because of heavy rain.
The game will resume at 3 p.m. Monday with O’Fallon (27-9) batting against the Lancers (18-12) and two outs in the bottom of the third inning.
“If you’re going to make a decision based on what the forecast says, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” O’Fallon coach Jason Portz said, citing the unpredictability of Midwest weather in the spring. “The Granite City administration did a great job getting the field ready and the field was playable. If the storm doesn’t ride in ... they weren’t expecting any rain this evening, that was supposed to stay out.
“I definitely think it was the right call, they put it in both coaches hands and (East coach) Todd (Blomberg) and I both agreed it was playable after we took our infield. It was the right decision, it’s just unfortunate a storm popped up like this.”
The other storm that popped up Saturday emanated from the hot bat of O’Fallon junior Bradley Harrison, who rained RBIs on the Lancers.
He had a two-out RBI double to help ignite a three-run first inning, then delivered a two-out double with the bases loaded in the second against East starter Miles Brunk.
In two trips to the plate, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale recruit had a pair of doubles and four RBIs. Harrison also held East hitless through three innings as the Panthers’ starting pitcher.
Harrison struck out four in three innings, walking two.
“That’s why he’s hitting in the heart of their order,” Belleville East coach Todd Blomberg said. “That’s why he’s a really good player, he’s an all-conference player. He’s definitely a dangerous kid.”
In the first, Harrison’s double put O’Fallon on top 1-0. East second baseman Logan Powell had trouble with Jacob Holl’s grounder, then threw wildly to first as two more runs scored.
Brunk got two quick outs in the second before Dillon Weiss singled, Nick Crabtree reached on an error and Bradley Snyder walked to load the bases. Harrison lined a shot to the gap in left-center that cleared the bases and pushed the O’Fallon lead to 6-0.
“That’s a key to winning in those situations, getting RBIs with two outs,” Portz said. “ A two-out knock that (Harrison) stays closed on and gets the ball drive to left field, and then a ball that Brunk leaves over the plate and he really gets through one with the bases loaded.”
Things snowballed quickly on the Lancers, although they have until Monday to regroup and figure out a way to deliver a comeback win.
“A little inconsistent on defense,” Blomberg said. “Getting ahead of hitters, we were good. When we were ahead of the hitters we threw too good of pitches to them. You saw what they did, they hit them pretty hard. We just couldn’t get strike three on some guys or couldn’t get them to hit the ball at us.
“They either hit it over us or found a gap and got up six runs pretty quick.”
Granite City Athletic Director John Moad and his staff put in a long day trying to get the field in decent playing shape despite rain Friday and earlier Saturday.
“The field was fine, I didn’t think the field was an issue at all,” Blomberg said. “If you would have asked us or told us with 100 percent certainty that we would have gotten this kind of rain later I don’t think we maybe would have started.”
Portz wants his team to come out aggressive again on Monday.
“Obviously we’ve given ourselves a little bit of an advantage here,” he said. “We’re back again on Monday. We’re real happy with where we’re sitting, but we know we’ve got a lot of work to do still.”