Photos from the Belleville West-East baseball game
Winning ugly was just fine with the Belleville West Maroons on Tuesday in their first meeting of the season with city rival Belleville East.
Junior outfielder Colin Shea highlighted a three-run sixth inning with run-scoring infield single and reliever Caleb Harsin pitched a scoreless seventh inning to clinch the Maroons’ 8-5 win in a Southwestern Conference game.
With the scored tied at 5, East reliever Jack Temmer issued a leadoff walk to Ryan Loeffler then walked Will Lanxon two outs later to put runners on first and second.
Both runners moved up a base on a balk. Shea, after fouling off several pitches, then hit a hard two-hopper that Lancers second baseman Evan Gray couldn’t come up with and both Loeffler and Lanxon scored to give the Maroons the lead for good.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play. Hit the ball hard some place,’’ Shea said. “They (East) beat us four straight last year. I didn’t want to start this season with another loss.”
The Maroons (9-1, 2-1) then added an insurance run on an RBI single by JB Bierman and when the Lancers went down in the top of the seventh, the Maroons had their first win in over a year against their crosstown rivals.
“We kind of dug ourselves a hole there with couple of mistakes again today. But we found a way to get out of it,’’ Maroons coach Todd Baltz said. “We’ve done that a couple of times this year where we’ve fallen behind and been forced to scratch and claw our way back into it. These guys don’t give up. We had some good at-bats where we took them deep into counts by fouling off pitches.
“That was a key today.’’
Belleville East (9-4), riding a five-game wining streak entering play Tuesday, broke out in front 4-1 with three runs in the fifth inning. After struggling with their control early both Lancers ace Evan Gray and Maroons southpaw Joey Kossina dominated in the middle innings.
But, sending seven batters to the plate, in the fifth, the Lancers tallied on a wild pitch and a two-run single by Evan Gray to take a 4-1 lead.
But Gray, forced to throw more pitches than normal against a Maroons lineup determined to go deep into counts at the plate, didn’t retire a hitter in the fiffh when West scored four times to take a 5-4 lead.
East, like West, didn’t help itself on defense. The Lancers committed three errors, including two on the same play in the fifth when West took its first lead at 5-4.
“With two good starting pitchers like Evan (Gray) and (Joey) Kossina, its kind of surprising for the two teams to score so many (13) runs. We made some mistakes which cost us a lot of runs today,’’ Lancers coach Ryan Wiggs said. “We have played pretty solid defense all year so I don’t know if there is any one thing which caused this to happen.
“I guess it was just one of those days.’’
The Lancers’ Gabe Tindall singled to lead off the sixth and eventually scored to tie the game at 5. But West then took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning.
“I would rather win ugly than play well and lose anytime. But, and we just talked about this, we really need to work on cleaning some things up,’’ Baltz said..
“Joey (Kossina) pitched well and had good enough command to where he could have been able to pitch a complete game today. But because of the mistakes we made, I bet it forced him to throw an extra 30-35 pitches. We need to do a better job.”