BETHALTO - A great crowd and even better weather greeted Civic Memorial and Roxana's baseball teams at Bethalto Sports Complex on Friday afternoon. Powered by ten runs in what would be the game’s sixth and final inning, the Eagles run-ruled the Shells 14-4.
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It was a hot start for the hosting Eagles, scoring four runs in the first two innings. Western Kentucky commit Bryer Arview continued his sensational senior season by ripping a double and a triple in the opening two innings. The latter of which drove home the third and fourth runs for CM. Arview finished the day 2-3 and was intentionally walked in the sixth and final inning.
“It’s real fun watching him hit isn’t it?” Said CM head coach Nick Smith on his star senior. “He finds barrels. He’s a special player, I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Roxana responded in the third inning with a two-RBI extra-base hit of their own. Kael Hester did the damage, driving in Max Autery and Mason Crump to make it a 4-2 game through three.
Roxana starter Landon Sitze recovered well after a rocky start. After the four runs scored by CM in the first and second, the sophomore hurler settled into a groove and pitched two solid innings, getting a lot of weak contact.
“He only had 90 today,” Shells head coach Jerry Wheaton noted of his starter’s pitch count for the afternoon. “And he threw 55 pitches through the first two innings and then just 33 through the next two. He just got better and better, he got more confidence with his breaking pitch and his changeup.”
The Shells plated two more runs in the fifth inning, thanks once again to Kael Hester's bat. Hester smacked another double to deep right, driving in Max Autery. A few fielder's choice grounders later, Hester scored to level the score at four apiece.
Roxana nearly added a fifth run in the top half of the sixth inning, had it not been for a great defensive effort by CM on the play. Max Autery smoked a double off the left-field wall, the relay throw found Bryer Arview, who gunned down Zeb Katzmarek at the plate.
The play kept it a 4-4 ballgame, much to the pleasure of the CM fans in attendance at Bethalto Sports Complex. The bottom half of the sixth inning would bring even more joy to those wearing purple and gold at the ballpark.
An offensive eruption from the Eagles saw them score 10 runs in the inning, batting around and then some. The inning started with Roxana reliever Nick Cotter walking Justin Banovz, and an error on the next play put two on with no outs. A balk immediately followed, putting runners on second and third. Momentum had completely flipped.
Cotter, the Roxana reliever, came into the game in the fifth inning in relief of Landon Sitze and looked incredibly solid at first. He gave up a weak single but followed with two consecutive grounders, the latter being an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. The inning that followed was one the senior would like to forget.
The Eagles scored ten runs without recording an out in the sixth inning and ended the game on a walk-off double from starting pitcher Jacob Flowers. Flowers had an RBI earlier in the inning as well.
“I was happy to see Flowers come up and get a big hit to start the scoring in the inning.” said CM’s Nick Smith. “He worked hard for us on the mound today. I’m just really proud of these guys, proud of the effort, proud of the fight back.”
The win pushes the Eagles to 9-5 on the season, playing their best baseball at the moment. CM has won five straight. They face Mascoutah in a home-and-home series next week.
“I go back to our youth a bit,” Roxana’s Jerry Wheaton said following the loss. “We battled, we came back, and did some really good things. But things can unravel so quickly. In my postgame talk to (the team) was that they have to stop giving up on themselves and each other. Their inexperience is not allowing them to understand the battle that it takes to get through a full season.”
Roxana falls to 7-10, their second straight loss of ten runs or more. The Shells play Freeburg and Carlinville on the road next week.
“It’s like ‘Ted Lasso’,” Wheaton concluded. “Be a goldfish. Just forget this one and move on.”
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