WOOD RIVER — The East Alton-Wood River Oilers ended their baseball season in style on Thursday.
With a 3-2 win over the Bunker Hill Minutemen in their final game of the season, the Oilers clinched a share of the Prairie State Conference championship, making it the first baseball conference title for EA-WR since it joined the league in 2013.
“It’s a big honor for us,” EA-WR coach Kyle Duncan said. “East Alton-Wood River hasn’t won a conference title since 2007, so it’s a big move in the right direction. The kids played well all through conference play and have done a great job.”
The Oilers finished their season at 14-19 overall and 4-1 in conference play. They will share the conference title with either Marquette or Nokomis. Marquette and Nokomis are 3-1 in league play and will play each other next week.
Nokomis handed the Oilers their only loss in conference play, a 10-0 defeat on April 5 at Wood River.
Duncan said the conference title was special for the senior class that includes Luke Wells, Blake Weishaupt and Blake Marks.
“They’re a great group of kids,” Duncan said. “This is my third year as head coach, so I got them as sophomores and they were all starting as sophomores. So it’s been a long three years, but now at the end, it has flown by and they’ve done a lot for the program.”
Wells was the winning pitcher, giving up no earned runs on four hits and struck out six in six innings of work.
“Luke Wells has pitched great,” Duncan said. “It’s probably the best game I’ve seen him pitch in all four years. It’s a great game for him to go out. He’s a great kid and he’s a good ballplayer and he showed it today.”
Marks went 1 for 3 with a triple. He also came in relief in the top of the seventh and retired the side to get the save.
“He filled many different roles this year, he has come through and he was able to shut the door for us,” Duncan said.
EA-WR also finished with the most wins in Duncan’s three-year tenure as head coach. The Oilers won a combined 10 games the last two seasons.
The Oilers played their game with Bunker Hill just three days after losing 1-0 to Roxana in a first-round game of the Class 2A Althoff Regional. EA-WR was scheduled to play the Minutemen last week, but was moved to Thursday because of rain.
“They were scheduled in the last game of the season, so with all of the rain, we couldn’t get it in last week,” Duncan said. “We had to finish all of the conference play games and make sure that the conference is finished, so we had to come back (to play).”
The Oilers led 1-0 after Marks hit a triple to left center that scored Christian Hunter from second with one out in the bottom of the first. Shortstop Tyler Hamby increased the lead to 2-0 after scoring on a wild pitch with one out in the third.
Bunker Hill rallied to tie it at 2-2 after scoring a pair of unearned runs in the fourth. Dane Sellars scored on a fielding error to cut the Oilers’ lead to 2-1. Austin Yates scored the tying run on another fielding error.
Weishaupt led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and sophomore Justin Englar came in to pinch run.
“There’s a lot different speed change whenever he goes in there,” Weishaupt said. “I was trying to see as many pitches as I can and trying to get on base and be a leadoff.”
Englar scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by Bunker Hill with two outs in the inning. Englar was involved in a rundown between third and home and a throw sailed over into left field, allowing Englar to score.
“It wasn’t probably the best move, but he was able to make it work,” Duncan said. “He stayed in the rundown and kept the play alive. They made the throwing error and we were able to capitalize off of it.”
Wells said he was thrilled to be part of a conference championship team in his senior year.
“We spent all four years coming out here and working every day and it’s something that’s we’re really proud of and will cherish forever,” Wells said.