EDWARDSVILLE – Lucas Krebs got things started off right for Edwardsville with a two-run homer over the fence in left-center field, as Chase Milburn pitched five strong innings, scattering five hits and striking out five, as Edwardsville held off a seventh-inning uprising to defeat Belleville West 9-3 in the first game of a two-game Southwestern Conference series Tuesday afternoon at Tom Pile Field.

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The win is the Tigers’ fourth straight, and 12th of its last 13 games, as Edwardsville is now 16-6 overall and 7-0 in the league. It was another great all-around performance by the team,

“It was fun watching Chase go out there and execute his pitches,” said Tigers coach Tim Funkhouser, “and he’s competed well for us all year. And a real solid effort against a team that’s racked up a lot of wins, with Belleville West. I thought our hitters were real patient, we laid off some two-seamers that could have got us out, and then as the game went on, we were able to put some better swings on some balls, so that was fun to see.”

Krebs hit his second homer of the year in the third, the two-run shot that got the Tigers off and running, as Edwardsville scored four times in the inning to seize control.

“Lucas is a great hitter,” Funkhouser said, “and I think his power numbers are going to continue to rise, as well as a lot of our guys. I think we have a chance to get a lot more extra-base hits, and I think that’s an area of growth that we’re going to have as we kind of hunt pitches in our zone, and put better swings on them,”

The Tigers missed on a pair of opportunities in the first two innings, but kept competing and plugging, finding a way to get things done from the third inning on,

“Yeah, we reached on four walks, and a hit by pitch the first two innings,” Funkhouser said, “and couldn’t get a runner across. But I thought our guys stayed patient within it, didn’t panic, and just continued to compete. And that was up and down the lineup, and with the guys who came in, too. They all had a good understanding of what they were trying to do, and that was fun to watch.”

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The Tigers continue to roll right along in stride, and are playing about as well as passable.

“All our guys are working hard in practice each day,” Funkhouser said, “they’ really enjoy playing together, and enjoy trying to get better each day. And when you put that together, there’s going to be a lot of good things happening. This game’s really tough, so we just try to get a little better each day, and enjoy the ability to go out and compete. And this week, with six games, the guys have done that hard work in practice, and are ready to go out and see what they’re made of.”

The Tigers did have a pair of opportunities in the first two innings, but a double play in the first ended one shot, and a pair of strikeouts in the second ended another. Edwardsville took advantage in the third, starting with Kolton Wright leading off by reaching on an error by the shortstop, and Krebs hitting a 2-1 pitch over the left-center field fence next to the scoreboard to put Edwardsville up 2-0. Lucas Huebner followed up with a single, Greyson Rathgeb drew a walk, then went to second, and courtesy runner Will Downs went to third on a balk. Bryce Beyers singled up the middle to score Huebner and make it 3-0, and Hunter Baugh grounded into a double play, scoring Downs to make it 4-0 after the third.

In the fourth, with two out, Baugh was hit by a pitch, and Krebs hit a long single to the fence in right-center, scoring Baugh to make it 5-0. In the fifth, with one out, a pair of hits put runners on second and third, then Evan Moore grounded out to short, scoring Downs to make it 6-0, A Wright double to the gap in left-center scored two more runs to make it 8-0, and in the sixth, Baugh doubled home Downs to make the score 9-0 for the Tigers.

Milburn rolled right along on the mound, scattering the five hits while fanning five through the fifth, while in the sixth, Ethan Stewart set the side down in order. In the seventh, the Maroons rallied for three runs, two scoring on an Ethan Hofmeister double, and the third coming in on another double by Jake Stedman, but Baugh shut the door after that, getting the final out himself to give the Tigers an 8-3 win.

West is now 13-9, and meet up with the Tigers in the second game of the set Thursday afternoon at the Maroons’ park, then Edwardsville hosts its annual round-robin tournament this weekend, going up against Chatham Glenwood Friday evening at 7 p.m., then playing Teutopolis Saturday morning at 10 a.m., then playing Highland at 12:30 p.m.

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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