BETHALTO — It was a marathon day of baseball Saturday at the Bethalto Sports Complex with the Alton Redbirds and Civic Memorial Eagles splitting a doubleheader that lasted nearly six hours.
CM won the first game in dramatic fashion, 6-5, as Corey Price punched a game-winning RBI single into right field to score Brandon Hampton in a walkoff in eight innings. The second game went to the Redbirds, who prevailed 9-4 and got stellar work on the hill from sophomore starter Gary Volz.
The Birds are now 5-2 on the young season, while the Eagles are 4-3.
“I thought we played really well the first game,” CM head coach Gary Bruening said. “That's a real good program, everybody knows that and we felt we could compete with them and we did. To get a walkoff with Price getting the big hit and win the game was big.
“The second game, I don't know why, I thought we came out a little flat. We're down 7-0 then all of the sudden we make it 7-4 and we're in the ball game and then they go out and put a couple more up.”
Alton head coach Todd Haug wasn't quite as satisfied with his squad's performance.
“It's early on and while we have a lot of seniors around, I think if you look at the box score and who played we did have significant young people out there as well and we're still learning to finish ball games,” Haug said. “We've lost a couple ball games early on and both times we've had the lead in the sixth inning, so it's a growing experience. We leave here not satisfied and with a pretty bitter taste in our mouth.”
After taking a 1-0 lead after one inning in the first game Saturday, AHS found itself down 3-1 entering the sixth inning. The Eagles scratched a pair of runs across in the second on RBIs from Collin Hall and Konnar Loewen and one more in the fifth, taking advantage of an Alton miscue in the field.
The Redbirds leaped in front behind four runs in the sixth. They chased starter Corey Price off the mound after a one-out double from Jacob Kanallakan and a RBI single by Robbie Taul. The Birds then took advantage of a passed ball and a bobbled ball in the outfield, nabbing a 5-3 edge through five and a half innings.
CM answered again though. Another Alton error led to a run and Jaxsen Helmkamp smacked a RBI double to tie it 5-5.
It set up extra-inning drama, with Hampton's leadoff hit leading to Price's flare to right to score him and secure the win.
“He's been hitting the ball hard,” Bruening said of Price. “He's been getting robbed a few times so it was nice to see him get that hit. That was his first hit of the game and it was nice to see him get the game winner.”
Good pitching halts offensive momentum though and that's what happened in the second game as Alton's sophomore righty Volz started strong and got the Eagles off balance.
Volz shut CM down for the first three innings and saw the Birds nab a 7-0 lead entering the bottom of the fourth. Altogether, he tossed 3.2 innings, scattering three hits, fanning six, walking six and allowing four unearned runs on 85 pitches.
“Your only going to be successful as that day's starting pitcher and Gary gave us a really solid effort in the second game,” Haug said. “When you come out and compete you can see what happens.”
The AHS offense was highlighted early by a RBI triple in the second inning by Mikey Hampton and a two-run single in the third by Steven Pattan to help construct the 7-0 lead.
CM took advantage of a two-out error to tally four unearned runs in the fourth, cutting it to 7-4. Caden Clark and Helmkamp supplied a couple RBI hits to highlight the inning.
The Redbirds scored once in the fifth when Sam Ballard's leadoff double was complemented by a RBI single off the bat of Ryan Boyd. Pattan logged his third RBI of the second game in the seventh inning, plating Kanallakan.
Haug applauded Pattan and Kanallakan, who had good days. Pattan had four hits and three RBIs altogether on the day, while Kanallakan had four hits, including a pair of hard-hit doubles.
Haug also liked what he say from side-throwing Devin Colley over the final three innings of the second game. Colley allowed no hits and one walk, while striking out two.
“That was a really good plus,” said Haug, who watched his staff walk a total of 18 CM hitters on Saturday. “He's a work in progress. He's a sidewinder, but when you make contact you drive the ball into the ground, what more can we ask — pitch to contact, put the ball in play and see what happens.”
Bruening was just pleased to compete with Alton. The Eagles have already played Edwardsville, Belleville East and Alton of the Southwestern Conference this season and gone 2-2 in those games. It's a nice barometer for where they should be.
“It wasn't too bad today,” he said. “We got Belleville East and split with Alton, so we're showing that we can play. We've shown we can be pretty bad sometimes too though. We lost to Breese Central when they had four of their starters out, so that's a game I thought we gave away. We're not good enough where we can just go out and win, but if we compete the way I think, we can be in about every ball game and win quite a few.”
CM will be without senior John Whitworth until likely the beginning of May. Whitworth broke his hand when hit by a pitch in a game with Edwardsville on March 19.
Next up for the Eagles is Mater Dei at 4:15 p.m. Thursday in Breese. The Redbirds are back in action at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday with their SWC opener at O'Fallon.
CM 6, ALTON 5, 8 INNINGS
Redbirds 100 004 00 — 5 9 3
Eagles 020 012 01 — 6 8 1
ALTON — Noah Rathgeb 1-2 SAC BB RBI, Steven Nguyen 1-2 SAC BB SB, Sam Ballard 1-4 SB, Jacob Kanallakan 2-4 2B, Robbie Taul 2-4 2B RBI, Steven Pattan 1-3 BB, Ryan Boyd 1-2 SAC SB.
LP — Pattan 1.2IP 2H 1R 1ER 1BB 1K
Ballard 1.1IP 2H 2R 2ER 4BB 1K
Charlie Erler 2.2IP 1H 1R 0ER 1BB 3K
Jacob St. Peters 2.0IP 3H 2R 1ER 3BB 4K
CM — Brandon Hampton 1-3 2 BBs RBI, Jaxsen Helmkamp 2-4 2B IBB RBI, Corey Price 1-4 BB SB RBI, Collin Hall 1-3 BB RBI, Konnar Loewen 2-4 2B RBI, Derek Walker 1-1.
WP — Spencer Powell 2.0IP 0H 0R 0ER 0BB 1K
Price 5.1IP 7H 3R 3ER 2BB 3K
Jack Walker 0.2IP 2H 2R 2ER 1BB 1K
ALTON 9, CM 4
Redbirds 112 310 1 — 9 14 1
Eagles 000 400 0 — 4 3 1
ALTON — Rathgeb 1-3 BB, Nguyen 1-4 2 RBIs, Kanallakan 2-3 2B BB, Ballard 2-4 2 2Bs, Pattan 3-4 3 RBIs, Boyd 3-4 RBI SB, Derrick Allen 2-4 SB, Mikey Hampton 1-4 3B RBI.
WP — Gary Volz 3.2IP 3H 4R 0ER 6BB 6K
Nick Cauley 0.1IP 0H 0R 0ER 2BB 0K
Devin Colley 3.0IP 0H 0R 0ER 1BB 2K
CM — Caden Clark 1-3 BB RBI, Helmkamp 2-4 2B RBI, Price 0-2 2 BBs RBI.
LP — Geoff Withers 3.0IP 6H 4R 4ER 2BB 2K
Christian Stawar 2.0IP 5H 4R 4ER 0BB 3K
Hall 2.0IP 3H 1R 1ER 0BB 0K