EDWARDSVILLE – Even though it's still very early in this high school baseball season, Edwardsville has shown that they will be a very difficult team to beat this year.
Their latest example: Greenville's Comets.
The Tigers erupted for 11 runs in the bottom of the fourth, sending 17 men to the plate in the inning, and Aaron Jackson and Trey Riley combined for nine strikeouts in a five-inning perfect game as EHS defeated Greenville 14-0 in four-and-a-half innings at Tom Pile Field Wednesday afternoon.
It was a performance that certainly made Tiger coach Tim Funkhouser happy.
“Aaron was mixing his pitches well, especially his change-up and fastball, and our plate appearances got better as the game went on,” Funkhouser said of his 2-0 Tigers.
The game, which had been postponed from Tuesday, was delayed another half-hour because of wet grounds from Tuesday's showers. “The infield was pretty wet,” Funkhouser said, “and it wasn't drying out like we'd wanted; that's why we delayed the start a half-hour.”
The delay didn't affect the Tigers very much; they came out strong, getting two runs in the first off a RBI single from Jake Garella that plated Jordan Hovey and a bases-loaded walk from Collin Clayton that brought in Brock Weimer to give EHS a 2-0 lead in the first. Another run came off Weimer's bat in the third when he lifted a pitch over the fence in left to make it 3-0 in Edwardsville's favor.
Jackson, in the meantime, was in complete control, fanning five Comet batters in the first three innings. “I was throwing strikes and getting good location on my pitches,” Jackson said. “We do a lot of preparation with (pitching) coach (Mike) Waldo before games and it really pays off.
“We were just firing on all cylinders today.”
Then came the big bottom of the fourth, which started with a Matthew Zielonko walk, a Fahd Shakeel single and a Mitchell Krebs sacrifice that wound up loading the bases. Dylan Burris coaxed a walk to bring in a run, then Hovey doubled home two more runs and, a run later, Johnson helped himself with a two-run double, all this before the first out came.
The hits kept coming until the Comets finally got out of the inning, but the damage had been done and Edwardsville was up 14-0. Trey Riley pitched the fifth and struck out the side to end the game.
The Tigers made liberal use of their bench during the rally, and everyone who came up contributed in some way, making Funkhouser pleased. “I'm really confident with my bench,” Funkhouser said. “We have guys who can come off and do the job.”
Weimer ended up 2-for-3 on the day with a RBI single and a solo homer to highlight the Tigers' 12-hit attack.
EHS is scheduled to travel to Kirkwood for a Thursday afternoon game against the Pioneers; first pitch is slated for 4:30 p.m.
Feeney, 56, is a native of Granite City and graduated from Granite City South in 1978. He was a part-time writer for the old Granite City Journal from 1979-84 before attending Eastern Illinois University in Charleston,
from which he earned his BA in journalism in 1988. He has worked for newspapers in Sikeston, Mo., Rocky Mount, N.C., Seneca, S.C. and in Charleston-Mattoon. He also worked for the old St. Clair County Suburban