Despite evidence to the contrary, O’Fallon High senior left-hander Bradley Harrison hasn’t been perfect this season.
However, he’s not far from it.
The Southern Illinois University Carbondale recruit tossed his fourth straight shutout Tuesday, limiting Edwardsville to two hits and striking out 10 in a six-inning, 11-0 Southwestern Conference baseball victory.
Edwardsville had gone 80 consecutive games without being shut out dating back to a 1-0 loss at Belleville East on May 8, 2014.
Harrison, now 10-0 with a ridiculous 0.21 earned-run average, has thrown 26 consecutive scoreless innings. During that time he has allowed nine hits and struck out 37, bringing his season total to 98 strikeouts in 66 innings.
“He’s good, he’s been good all year,” Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser said after watching Harrison extend O’Fallon’s winning streak to 18 straight games. “We didn’t get many good swings off of him. I thought we had some pitches at times to hit, we just swung through some pitches and credit him. He’s been doing that to teams all year and we weren’t able to get anything going against him.”
O’Fallon (26-3 overall, 10-1 in the SWC) was ranked second in the state in the latest PrepBaseballReport.com poll and39th in the nation in the MaxPreps Xcellent 50. Edwardsville 24-5, 9-3) saw its 11-game winning streak come to an end, with four errors contributing to the defeat along with the pitching of Harrison and some timely hitting by the Panthers.
When the Class 4A sub-sectional playoff seeds came out Tuesday, O’Fallon was first and Edwardsville was second. The teams hold those same spots in the Belleville News-Democrat Large-School Baseball Rankings. O’Fallon and Harrison also beat Edwardsville 12-2 earlier this season.
O’Fallon coach Jason Portz was asked if Harrison’s current run of success is like anything else he has seen in the conference.
“It’s hard to go on a run like what he has,” Portz said. “He’s right there with what a lot of the elite guys have done in the league over the years. (Former Edwardsville pitchers) Nathan Culp was that guy, Shaun Seibert was that guy, Nick Seibert was that guy ... our league produces kids like that on a yearly basis.
“I think Brad’s just going out and being Brad Harrison, that’s all he wants to do.”
That’s been more than enough.
He also was 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs as O’Fallon broke open a 2-0 game with five runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth.
Camden Bauer drove in three runs on a two-run double and a sacrifice fly, while Jared Dalonzo and Harrison each had RBI single in the first. Joe Guithues added an RBI single in the fifth while Harrison clubbed a run-scoring triple to the fence in right center in the sixth.
“Right now we’re a complete team,” Portz said. “We’re playing well in all phases of the game and out team is meshing pretty well together. Early in the year O think we were struggling to score runs a little bit and that was pressuring our pitchers a little bit.”
The only pressure for Harrison on Tuesday was keeping O’Fallon’s win streak and his shutout streak intact.
Edwardsville starter Trey Riley, an Oklahoma State recruit, struck out Bauer and Chase Hackstadt to escape a rough first inning with the Tigers only down 2-0. He kept the Panthers scoreless until leaving with two outs in the fourth.
“I thought Trey did a great job of keeping us in the game that first inning and not let it blow up,” Funkhouser said. “We just couldn’t push any runs across from him. We had a couple misplays that blew up some innings. That’s where it kind id spiraled out of control.”
An error and a walk led to the five-run uprising in the fifth, which included Tigers; reliever Andrew Frank hitting Josh Gibson with a pitch with the bases loaded to force in another run.
Jake Garella and Cole Cimarolli had the lone hits for Edwardsville.
“O’Fallon’s a disciplined team, a team that’s going to put the ball in play a bunch,” Funkhouser said. “We gave them a lot of freebies and they earned them with tough at-bats and fouling off some pitches, stuff like that. Obviously that didn’t give us a good chance today.
“I don’t think they’re 10 runs beyond us both times. They’ve beat us both times 10 runs, but we haven’t played well.”