Waterloo’s pitching staff is setting quite a pace.
Senior right-hander Tyler McAlister threw a no-hitter and senior Cole Kaiping drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded single in the seventh inning Saturday as the Bulldogs defeated Columbia 1-0 in the championship game of the Class 3A Mascoutah Regional.
In regional victories over Cahokia and the Eagles, Waterloo pitchers did not allow a hit or a run. The only baserunner in the two games came Saturday when Columbia sophomore Brennen van Breusegen reached on a throwing error in the first.
“Our offense gets a lot of publicity, and rightfully so,” Waterloo coach Mark Vogel said. “But our pitching staff is what really carries this team on a day-in, day-out basis. You saw that in the regional. Tyler has been fantastic all year, and he didn’t do anything to disappoint today.”
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It’s the fourth regional championship in the last six years for top-seeded Waterloo (26-6), who will play Marion in the semifinals of the Triad Sectional at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Fourth-seeded Columbia, which lost 4-1 to Waterloo in the regular season, finished 20-14.
McAlister, a Missouri State recruit, was dominating. He walked none, struck out eight and retired 20 hitters he faced after van Breusegen reached with one out in the first.
Our offense gets a lot of publicity, and rightfully so. But our pitching staff is what really carries this team on a day-in, day-out basis. You saw that in the regional. Tyler (McAlister) has been fantastic all year, and he didn’t do anything to disappoint today.
Waterloo baseball coach Mark Vogel on Saturday after his Bulldogs blanked Columbia 1-0
Senior center fielder Jordan McFarland preserved the no-hitter in the fourth when he made a tumbling catch in right-center to rob Columbia senior Lamont Read of at least a double.
“I think in the fourth or fifth inning, I started realizing that I was dealing pretty good,” said McAlister (9-2). “I think I started telling myself that I needed to stop worrying about that and just go out there and pitch. I felt pretty good today. I threw a lot of first-pitch fastball strikes and was able to build off that.
“I wasn’t nervous that much. I was pretty locked in. I just went out there and competed. I wasn’t really worried about anything else. I just wanted to get a win for my team.”
I wasn’t nervous that much. I was pretty locked in. I just went out there and competed. I wasn’t really worried about anything else. I just wanted to get a win for my team.
Waterloo senior Tyler McAlister on his no-hitter Saturday against Columbia
Columbia hit just three balls out of the infield.
“That’s a great ballclub over there,” Eagles coach Neal O’Donnell said of the Bulldogs. “Their pitcher did an excellent job. He had a lot of quick innings, very efficient innings. We were really never able to get anything together offensively.
“I told the kids, one of the unfortunate things about a game like that is there’s going to be a winner and a loser. Unfortunately for us, we were on the losing end of that. But we have nothing to hold our heads down about with that effort.”
The winning inning
Waterloo junior Hayden Bender opened the seventh with a single to left against sophomore Luke Watson (7-3).
Bender was forced at second on a sacrifice attempt by senior pinch-hitter Chase Rubemeyer. Sophomore Quinn Albrecht followed with a single to right as Rubemeyer took second. A perfectly placed bunt single down the third-base line by senior Nate Albers loaded the bases.
Columbia brought its infield in, but Rubemeyer was forced at home on Osterhage’s grounder to sophomore shortstop Mitch Daniels, who made a strong throw to the plate.
I did my routine, I got ready to hit the ball, I got a ball I could drive and I hit it the other way. I like hitting on the outside corner; I like hitting the ball the other way. That’s where he threw me.
Waterloo senior Cole Kaiping on his game-winning hit in the seventh inning
Kaiping, a left-handed hitter, followed with a long drive that sailed over the head of senior left fielder Cameron Roth, driving in courtesy runner Lucas Goodsell.
“Their pitcher was dealing the whole game,” Kaiping said. “He had really good downward action on his ball. We just wanted to get a run for Tyler. He had been pitching all game.
“Coach has been preaching all year long, just do our routines and (be a) one-pitch warrior. No situation has been too big. I did my routine, I got ready to hit the ball, I got a ball I could drive and I hit it the other way. I like hitting on the outside corner; I like hitting the ball the other way. That’s where he threw me.”
Columbia pitcher shines
McAlister had to be good because Eagles sophomore Luke Watson also was impressive.
Watson allowed a single to the first batter he faced, senior Kane Osterhage, but didn’t permit another hit until the deciding seventh.
Watson, a right-hander, allowed one run on five hits, walked four and struck out five.
“Our pitcher had to work,” O’Donnell said. “But I credit our pitcher. To come in and do the job that he did, to give us a chance to win at the end ... That’s what I told our starting pitchers all year long: ‘Give us a chance to win at the end. That’s what we want from you.’”
Vogel said Watson was a handful.
“I thought he did a good job of changing speeds and keeping us off his fastball,” he said. “We just really didn’t square the ball up a lot today. The last couple of innings, we started to a little bit more. But he did a good job of throwing strikes and his changeup looked pretty good.”