BETHALTO — Zach Weinman serves as the leadoff hitter and catalyst for the Marquette Catholic High baseball team.
Yet Explorers’ coach Tim Fahnestock decided to bat Weinman eighth in the lineup Tuesday in order to regain his stroke.
It worked wonders. Weinman got his groove going again.
He went 3-for-3, reached base four times and drove home the decisive run in the Explorers’ 4-3, eight-inning victory over Civic Memorial at the Bethalto Sports Complex. He had two RBIs in all as the Explorers improved to 5-9. The Eagles fell to 7-9-1 following the nerve-wracking rivalry battle.
“It’s a big win for us and this game should push us forward,” Weinman said.
His third hit, a two-out single to right field in the top of the eighth, brought in pinch-runner Adam Harrison. Mike Neel opened the inning with a single and Harrison ran for him. Jacob File sacrificed Harrison to second and Konnor Morrissey grounded out before Weinman produced in the clutch.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and get the run home,” he said. “All I wanted to do was to get on base.”
With the game on the line, Fahnestock had the right player at the plate.
“Zach is a good contact hitter and he’s usually at the top of the lineup,” Fahnestock said. “But I dropped him to No. 8 today and moved Jayce Maag to No. 1 to shake up things. I was trying to find the right mix and trying to get Zach to relax.
“He really responded and did a great job.”
Weinman, also a standout soccer player, registered his first RBI on a fourth-inning single of the see-saw game. CM led 1-0 and 2-1 before Marquette knotted things in the fourth and grabbed a 3-2 advantage in the sixth. The Eagles tied it in the sixth and nearly won it in the seventh.
They had the winning run — in John Whitworth at third base with one out — but couldn’t get him home. Whitworth, sidelined since March 19 when he suffered a broken left thumb against Edwardsville, went in as pinch runner in the seventh and stole a base. He was bunted to third, but was stranded.
CM coach Gary Bruening figures Whitworth, the main cog in the Eagles’ lineup, may return soon. He hasn’t batted since the Edwardsville game when he was hit by a pitch in the first inning.
The Eagles could use some timely hitting. They had seven hits against Marquette, but didn’t make the most of them.
“We left 12 runners on base and struck out 13 times,” Bruening said. “The worst part about those strikeouts were that eight of them were called third strikes.
“Our pet peeve as coaches is having a player called out on strikes. You can’t take borderline pitches or ones down the middle.”
Corey Price hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning, but the Eagles left the bases loaded. It was a sign of things to come.
We stranded seven runners in the first three innings and 10 in four innings,” Bruening said. “It was very disappointing. We didn’t get the big hit.”
Brandon Hampton went 2-for-4 and delivered a run-scoring single in the sixth to tie it 3-3. Price went 1-for-3 and swiped two bases. Leadoff hitter Jaxsen Helmkamp was 2-for-5, got on base 3 times and stole a base. Losing pitcher Spencer Powell was 1-for-1, knocked in a third-inning run and walked three times.
Powell, a sophomore, allowed 3 hits and a run in 2.2 innings. Starter Jack Walker yielded 6 hits and 3 runs in 5.1 innings. He pitched around a pair of errors in the opening inning when the Eagles used a 6-4-3 double play to escape it.
“Kudos to Marquette. They deserved it,” Bruening said.
Fahnestock said the Explorers needed the victory.
“It’s a good confidence booster for us and a good start to this week,” he said. “Last week was sort of disheartening.”
He noted, “And it turned out to be a great game. It always is when we play CM.”
Winning pitcher Liam Maher worked the final two innings after starter Brady McAfee pitched six innings and struck out nine. He gave up seven hits and three runs.
Maher contributed two hits, a walk and a stolen base in a 2-for-3 effort. Teammate Jacob File also went 2-for-3 and Kevin Lloyd added a RBI single in the third.
“It was a good test for us and a good win for the kids,” Fahnestock said.
CM opens Mississippi Valley Conference competition Wednesday when the Eagles welcome Jersey. Marquette is idle until Thursday when it entertains Greenville in a nonconference game.
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 4, CM 3, eight innings
Marquette 001 101 01 — 4 9 2
CM 101 001 00 — 3 7 2
Marquette (5-9) – Liam Maher 2-3, Kevin Lloyd 1-4 RBI, Mike Neel 1-4, Jacob File 2-3, Zach Weinman 3-3 RBI-2. WP – Maher IP-2 H-0 R-0 BB-2 K-4; Brady McAfee IP-6 H-7 R-3 ER-3 BB-3 K-9
CM (7-9-1) – Jaxsen Helmkamp 2-5, Brandon Hampton 2-5 RBI, Corey Price 1-3 RBI, Spencer Powell 1-1 RBI, Jack Walker 1-2. LP – Spencer Powell IP-2.2 H-3 R-1 ER-1 BB-0 K-1