EDWARDSVILLE - Sophomore pitcher Tony Eberlin pitched a magnificent game in the IHSA Class 4A baseball regional final on Saturday morning, allowing only a sixth-inning single by Jack Twenhafel, and struck out 12 as the Tigers won over O'Fallon 4-0 at Tom Pile Field.

Edwardsville gave Eberlin all the run support he needed in the first three innings, scoring once in both the first and third, and twice in the second, as the Tigers moved on to the Illinois Wesleyan University sectional next week.

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"He was spectacular," said Tigers' coach Tim Funkhouser on Eberlin's performance on the mound. "Tony just made pitch after pitch, and O'Fallon's a really good ball club. They take good approaches at the plate, and they fight every pitch. And for him to just continue to do that throughout the course of the game. He's got good stuff, the consistency that he showed today was amazing.

"He worked all his pitches, and continued the consistency, even if we had a longer inning and went back out, he just was ready. He was just dialed in, so I'm sure it was fun for those guys to play defense, because he made pitches, and I think it gave us some confidence at the plate, too, that we needed a guy that was shutting them down."

Eberlin only needed 86 pitches to gain the shutout win, under a IHSA-imposed pitch limit of 115, and each pitch meant something as well.

"That's amazing," Funkhouser said with a laugh. "He got some first-pitch outs, he got some other outs earlier in the counts, and that's because of his pitch execution. And multiple pitcher pitches We kind of define them as pitcher pitches, hitter pitches, or a non-competitive pitch. He threw so many competitive pitches today that were pitcher pitches, which makes it really hard for the other team. Either they take a swing at a pitch that's not great to hit, or they have to take it, and it's a strike, and get deeper in the count, which he obviously was able to work in all situations."

The run support Eberlin had in the early innings was just as important, as the Edwardsville offense was on top of its game as well.

"Our guys throughout the lineup, they do a great job of being patient," Funkhouser said, "and we really made David Barker (the O'Fallon starting pitcher) work from that standpoint of he had to throw strikes, and at times where he didn't, we were able to get on base. Then we got a couple of base hits, we were able to execute the running game a little bit, our bunting game at times, at other times, I probably forced the issue a little bit.

"We were able to create a lot of different things. A guy like Logan Porter, man, how he steps up. After the second inning, he played more innings today than he did all year in the outfield," Funkhouser said with a very hearty laugh.

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"From that standpoint," Funkhouser continued, "he continued to work on his game, hitting-wise, and has been working in the outfield over the last week-and-a-half, or whatever. He just played with great composure, and his abilities really stood out out there today. So, I'm so impressed with the way he competed, and all of our guys feed off that even more."

It's very typical of the Tigers to see the younger players step up and make big contributions during a postseason run.

"Yeah, all of our guys practice hard," Funkhouser said. "They practice with a purpose, and they care about each other. They know they don't have to carry all the load, but to do just their job or their responsibilities. It's a fun environment to be a part of, because they're lifting up others. And at the same time, they're getting rewarded for working hard. It's fun to see guys get rewarded, like Eberlin and Porter. The competition was awesome."

After O'Fallon went down in order in the first, the Tigers got their initial run in the home half, with Kolton Wright leading off with a single, then stole second, while Lucas Krebs was hit by a pitch Borth advanced on a balk by Barker, then Lucas Huebner hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Wright and sending Krebt to third

In the second inning, Krebs drew a bases-loaded walk to score Hunter Baugh, and Huebner reached on an error by the shortstop on a sharply hit ball to make it 3-0 when Porter scored. In the third, Greyson Rathgeb led off with a double, then went to third on a wild pitch. scoring on a squeeze bunt by Evan Moore, with Moore being thrown out at first to make it 4-0.

Eberlin took it from there, retiring nine of the first 10 batters, and setting the side down in order in four of the first five innings. Twenhafel broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single down the left field line, then stole second. But the Panthers were set down in order after that.

Eberlin allowed only three baserunners in the game, Ian Macedon being hit by pitchers twice, and Twenhafel's hi, while fanning 12, getting Connor Blue, Camden Cox, and Keegan Seipp all fanning in the seventh inning to end the game.

The Panthers conclude their season 24-13, while the Tigers are now 26-8, and next play Alton, a 4-3, eight-inning winner over Belleville West to win their own regional on Saturday, in the semifinals of the Illinois Wesleyan sectional Wednesday at 4 p.m at a neutral Metro-East site to be announced.

The Tigers-Redbirds winner goes to the final against the winner of Normal Community and Bradley Bourbonnais on Saturday at Jack Horenberger Field, with the first pitch coming at 11 a.m.

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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