BETHALTO — The Civic Memorial Eagles and Granite City Warriors fought admirably on Monday at the Bethalto Sports Complex. In the end it was the host Eagles enjoying the fruits of their labor though.
CM defeated the Warriors 9-7 in summer baseball action, scoring a pair of sixth-inning runs to snap a 7-7 tie. With the win the Eagles improved to 9-3, while GCHS dipped to 3-9 with the loss.
It was David Lane's work on the base paths in the sixth that paved the way for CM's victory. Lane led off with a single to center field and stole second base to place himself in scoring position.
When Caden Clark squared around to show bunt at the plate the Granite City third baseman inched in on defense and Lane took advantage of the scenario. As he broke for third no one covered as Warrior catcher Bailey Thompson threw the ball, which skipped into short left field. Lane motored home to put the Eagles ahead for good at 8-7.
Clark later reached via a walk and scored an insurance run on a sacrifice fly by Geoffry Withers.
“Coach just told me to get on base and he said if you do that you're probably going to steal,” Lane said. “I saw the kid creeping in when Caden squared around, so I thought, 'If he keeps doing that I'm going to take the base.' Nobody was there, I saw the catcher throw it and I just headed home.
“I didn't think anybody was there and I just think the catcher was going through the motions with me stealing.”
Summer baseball is a time for learning, a time to plug in younger players to gain much needed experience for the spring varsity season. Granite City assistant coach Chris Harrison, filling in for head coach Scott Smallie on Monday, thought there were learning moments for the Warriors and he thought they fought throughout the game.
Granite City owned a 3-0 lead in the second and clawed back with four runs in the fifth to tie the Eagles at 7-7 before ultimately coming up short.
“You've got to like the fight,” Harrison said. “It's a battle every time you go out there every inning. Yes we made a couple of mistakes and allowed them four runs and then flipped the script on them in the next inning when we got the four runs back. We just got some bad luck in the bottom of the sixth. They put people in motion and when you put people in motion things happen and it just happened to us and we made some fundamental mistakes and they got two more runs to capitalize.”
GCHS took the lead in the second when Hunter Needham started things with a one-out hit. Elijah Halley followed with a double and Jacob Graysen coaxed a walk to load the bases.
Needham scored on a wild pitch to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead and Drew Wielgus supplied a two-out, two-run single to stake them to a 3-0 advantage.
The Eagles quickly fought back. Bryce Zupan's one-out single later led to a run when Dalton Myers hit a RBI single to left to cut it to 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning.
CM grabbed a 4-3 lead in the third, capitalizing on a pair of Granite City miscues in the field. Hayden Sontag supplied a RBI triple and Zupan produced a RBI single.
The Eagles extended their lead in the fourth. Myers stroked a one-out double, followed by a bunt single from Lane and a steal of second. Clark hit a two-run single through the middle to elevate it to 6-3 and chase starter James Marler from the game. Sontag then scored Clark on a two-out double off of reliever Jack Blomme to make it 7-3.
“We got down 3-0 and we didn't quit,” CM coach Jarrod Klier said. “We got back and took the lead and then had one bad inning, gave them four, and we could have gotten down on ourselves. They came back and tied it up, but we came back and scored two more and showed a lot of heart tonight I thought.”
The Warriors responded in their half of the fifth. Matt Woods reached via an error and stole second and Andy Halley and Tyler Wheatley both walked to load the bases. Lane entered to pitch for the Eagles, but promptly hit Cordell Mackin to force home Woods and cut it to 7-4. After getting a force out at the plate and a strikeout, Graysen stroked a three-run double to right field to tie it 7-7.
CM right fielder Caleb Denney attempted a diving catch on Graysen's sinking liner, which got past him to allow GCHS to tie the game.
“That's what the summer is for, making sure players know different situations and it's a good time to see who can make the plays and who can't,” Klier said. “It's like spring training seeing what everybody can do now and what you have in the spring.”
Lane is not someone who has much varsity pitching experience, but he knows in the summer he has to step up and do what is needed from him by the team.
“We were in a bit of a hole and I knew I had to throw strikes,” he said. “I hit the first batter I faced and got me down a little bit, but just thought I needed to get out of it and get some outs. We got out of it, had a little miscue out there but I trust my defense and just threw strikes.”
Lane then came through in the sixth on the offensive end. After Withers threw a scoreless sixth for CM, Christian Stawar came on and tossed a perfect seventh to get the win and lead his team to victory.
Despite the outcome, Harrison is happy with the efforts of the Warriors. After stumbling through a 4-31 spring campaign, Granite City has shown fight in the summer.
“We love to see fight, no matter how long a season is, how good or bad our record is, you want to see fight every day you come out and the past two to three weeks they've fought,” Harrison said. “In the summer we haven't lost really bad. It's been a fight or it's been close and hasn't been a lopsided victory either way. We're glad to see that with everyone coming to play and battle.”
CM 9, GRANITE CITY 7
Warriors 030 040 0 — 7 6 3
Eagles 013 303 X — 9 12 2
CM (9-3) — David Lane 2-4 3 SBs, Caden Clark 1-3 BB 2 RBIs, Brandon Carpenter 2-4, Hayden Sontag 2-4 2B 3B 2 RBIs, Geoffry Withers 1-3 SAC RBI, Bryce Zupan 2-4 RBI, Dalton Myers 2-2 2B RBI.
WP — Christian Stawar 1.0IP 0H 0R 0ER 0BB 2K
Adam Flack 2.0IP 4H 3R 3ER 1BB 2K
Sontag 2.0IP 1H 2R 0ER 2BB 2K
Lane 1.0IP 1H 2R 0ER 1BB 1K 1HBP
Withers 1.0IP 0H 0R 0ER 0BB 1K
Granite City (3-9) — Matt Woods 1-4 SB, Cordell Mackin 0-3 HBP RBI, Hunter Needham 1-4, Elijah Halley 1-4 2B, Jacob Graysen 1-2 2B BB 3 RBIs, Drew Wielgus 2-3 2 RBIs.
LP — Jack Blomme 2.2IP 3H 2R 0ER 1BB 1K
James Marler 3.1IP 9H 7R 6ER 1BB 3K