ALTON - The O'Fallon, Mo., Hoots score three runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead, then added an insurance run in the top of the seventh to take a 5-3 win over the Alton River Dragons in the first of four key meetings between the two clubs Thursday night at Lloyd Hopkins Field at Gordon Moore Park.
The win enabled the Hoots to take a game-and-a-half lead over the River Dragons in the Prairie Land Division race for the first half of the Prospect League's split season. The first half ends on the Fourth of July.
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O'Fallon took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth on an Ole Arntson ground out to short, but Alton came back with two in the home half of the fourth as Eddie King's RBI triple tied the game and Ben Gallaher's sacrifice fly to right gave the River Dragons a 2-1 lead. The Hoots then scored three times in the fifth on an RBI double by Cade Hohl and a two-run double by Patrick Clohesy. Blake Burris, from Edwardsville, homered over the fence in right in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to 4-3, but an Andy Bunton sacrifice fly to right in the top of the seventh gave the Hoots the insurance run in going on to the 5-3 win.
Burris' homer and King's triple were the only two hits on the night for the River Dragons, while King, Burris and Gallaher all had RBIs. Alton's Adam Stilts went six-and-a-third innings on the mound for the Dragons, allowing five runs on seven hits, four runs earned, while walking two and striking out five. Hunter Callahan and Carson Richardson each fanned one batter in relief.
The River Dragons fall to 12-9 overall on the season and play a home-and-home series with the Quincy Gems Friday and Saturday, with the Friday game starting at 6 p.m. and Saturday's return game starting at 6:35 p.m. Alton goes to O'Fallon's CarShield Park Sunday night at 6:35 p.m., then hosts a Monday game against the Burlington, Ia., Bees, then hosts the Normal Cornbelters Tuesday night, both games starting at 6:35 p.m. The Dragons finish June with a game at the Terre Haute, Ind., REX on June 29 at 6:35 p.m., St. Louis time, then play the Fourth of July weekend at home, with back-to-back games against O'Fallon July 1-2, both games starting at 6:35 p.m., then host the Cape Catfish of Cape Girardeau, Mo. July 3-4 to close out the first half of the season, the Sunday game starting at 5:35 p.m., then the Fourth of July game starting at 6:35 p.m.