O’FALLON — The Alton Redbirds grabbed an early lead in their Southwestern Conference opener at Blazier Field, but couldn’t hold on, losing 5-4 to the host Panthers.
It was the first loss of the season for the Birds, which fell to 8-1 overall and 0-1 in SWC play, while O’Fallon moved to 8-1 and 1-0.
Alton outhit the Panthers 10-8 and staked itself to a 2-0 lead after half an inning. Robbie Taul led off the game with a hit and moved to second when Mike Hampton reached on catcher’s interference. Taul later scored on a RBI-ground out by Steven Pattan and Hampton raced home on a wild pitch.
The Redbirds added to their lead in the top of the third when Pattan singled home courtesy runner Breyon Reed to elevate it to 3-0.
Left fielder Tyler Moxey made a nifty catch in the bottom of the third with two on and two out to keep O’Fallon off the board, but just an inning later the Panthers made their charge.
Brayden Arnold put O’Fallon up for good with a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth. The Panthers scored four times in the inning to nab a 4-3 lead and end the afternoon for Alton starter Charlie Erler.
Another run for O’Fallon in the fifth pushed it to 5-3. The Birds scratched one more across in the sixth when Panthers’ starting pitcher Hayden Juenger walked Steven Nguyen of Alton with the bases loaded to cut it to 5-4, but it was as close as the Redbirds could get.
Nguyen walked and Pattan singled with two outs in the seventh, but were left stranded on the bases to end the game.
Handing out eight walks on the mound plagued the Redbirds in the loss.
Pattan, Moxey and Brandon Droste each banged out two hits to pace the Alton offense.
Erler took the loss for AHS on the hill, falling to 2-1. Juenger got the win for OTHS, improving to 1-0. Arnold picked up the save for the Panthers, his first on the season.
Unfortunately Moxey had to leave the game late with an apparent ankle injury while sliding into second base. He did not return and left to get the injury checked out.
Alton returns to action at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Belleville East. O’Fallon next plays Collinsville at 4:30 p.m. Thursday on the road.
Alton head coach Todd Haug discusses the 5-4 loss to O'Fallon on Tuesday to open Southwestern Conference play.
Jason Portz 3-28-17
O'Fallon head coach Jason Portz talks about the 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Alton Redbirds on Tuesday.