GODFREY — The O’Fallon Panthers earned a Southwestern Conference win over the rival Alton Redbirds on Thursday at Alton High behind a strong pitching performance from Bradley Harrison.
Harrison struck out eight batters, walked one and gave up four hits in the 7-0 shutout win. Harrison improved to 8-0 overall while the Panthers earned their 20th win of the season, as they improve to 20-3 overall and 7-1 in the SWC. Alton falls to 15-7 overall and 5-3 in the conference.
“Pitching is a real integral part of any game plan,” Redbird coach Todd Haug said. “In this case, when you have a lefty like him (Harrison), you like your chances. You get behind your horse and you ride him all the way through. In this case, he was dominant from start to finish.”
O’Fallon coach Jason Portz described Harrison’s performance as “very good.”
“In the latter innings he was able to change up his approach a bit,” Portz said. “He went from a slider to his breaking ball…They started to square some balls up and were getting a little bit better timing. Bradley was able to control both sides of the plate and throw four pitches for strikes. If you’re able to do that, you’re going to be a quality guy on the mound. I don’t care if you throw 88 or 92. You’re going to have a chance to win.”
The Redbirds used four pitchers. Jacob St. Peters, who currently holds a 5-1 record, started on the mound for Alton. He worked 4.1 innings. Jon Witt relieved St. Peters in the fourth and Charlie Erler relieved Witt in the fifth. Max Hunter relieved Erler in the seventh.
The Panthers banged out 10 hits against the Redbirds. O’Fallon stranded two runners in the second and pulled ahead 2-0 in the third inning. Ben Belongy and Harrison came home from third after St. Peters walked Camden Bauer and catcher Chase Hackstadt. St. Peters struggled with control, as he walked four batters and struck out three batters. Haug called his performance an “uncharacteristic outing.”
“It’s April and we’ve been up and down,” Haug said. “But it’s April and we’ll bounce back. All you have to do is be hot at the end.”
O’Fallon scored two more runs in the fourth inning. Jared Dalonzo’s sacrifice fly allowed Josh Gibson to run home from third for a score and an Alton error allowed outfielder Dillon Weiss to take home and score the Panthers’ fourth run.
Gibson’s one-run single in the fifth made the score 5-0 Panthers and a Redbird error allowed O’Fallon to score two more runs and take a 7-0 lead.
Alton might have avoided the shutout, as it stranded one runner in the third and two in the fifth. For the Redbirds, designated hitter Seth Boschert singled in the third, Devin Colley and Steven Nguyen singled in the fifth and Mike Hampton singled in the sixth. Aside from a stellar pitching performance from Harrison, the Panthers’ defense turned in an errorless effort. They also turned three double plays in the third, fourth and sixth innings.
The Redbirds will return to action at 11 a.m. Saturday at home in the first game of a double header against Valmeyer.