EDWARDSVILLE — So much for a showdown.
An anticipated close confrontation between Southwestern Conference baseball leader O’Fallon and challenger Edwardsville turned into a blowout Tuesday.
Bradley Harrison of the Panthers made sure of it.
The senior left-hander did it all as O’Fallon stuffed Edwardsville, 11-0, in a 6-inning conference contest at Tom Pile Field. The Panthers not only handed the Tigers their first shutout loss in 80 games — dating to 2014 — they also closed in on the SWC title.
O’Fallon extended its winning streak to 18 games and improve to 26-3 by hammering Edwardsville for the second time this season. The Panthers shot to 10-1 in the SWC and own a 2-game lead with 3 to play. The Tigers slipped to 24-5 and 9-3 as they saw their 11-game winning string vanish.
“We weren’t able to get anything going against them,” Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser said. “Harrison has been good all year and we didn’t have many good swings against him. Then we had a couple of misplays and that’s when it spiraled out of control for us.”
Harrison kept the Tigers spinning all afternoon. The SIUC recruit allowed 2 hits, struck out 10 and walked 2 in a 98-pitch performance. He hiked his record to 9-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.21. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Harrison has yielded just 2 earned runs in 66 innings.
“Brad keeps progressing and he just wants to be himself,” O’Fallon coach Jason Portz said of his ace. “It helped our guys when we put a 2-spot on the scoreboard in the first inning. That took pressure off us.”
If Harrison’s pitching wasn’t enough to stymie the Tigers, his hitting buried them. Harrison went 3-for-4 with a triple. He singled home a first-inning run and clouted his run-scoring triple in a four-run sixth.
The Panthers scored five times, four of them unearned runs, in the fifth to bust things open. Four errors doomed Edwardsville.
“We knew we were going to be hard pressed with Harrison pitching for them,” Funkhouser said. “We made him work in the first inning when he threw 25 pitches, but we couldn’t get any runs.
“Then, we gave them a lot of freebies.”
Jake Garella’s first-inning single and Cole Cimarolli’s sixth-inning single were the only hits off Harrison. He retired the side in three innings, pitched around a hit and walk in the first inning and a walk and an error in the third. Cimarolli’s singled to lead off the sixth, but he was thrown out trying to steal second and Harrison retired the next two batters.
“We haven’t played very well in both games against O’Fallon,” Funkhouser said. “Both times, they’ve beaten us in a 10-run game.”
Have mercy. The Panthers won the first game, 14-4, on April 14. So O’Fallon has outscored Edwardsville by a 25-4 margin in their two meetings.
Portz pointed to the anomaly of another lopsided affair.
“I didn’t expect to win 11-0, and I don’t any day,” he said. “We play it pitch-by-pitch and inning-by-inning. What helped today was the maturity we showed going deep into the counts against their pitchers.”
Infielder Camden Bauer, an Alabama recruit and the great-great nephew of former New York Yankees’ standout Hank Bauer, added to the O’Fallon cause. He was 1-for-3 with a two-run double and sacrifice fly. Teammate Joe Guithues went 1-for-1 with a run-scoring single and reached base 3 times.
Seven Panthers stroked hits against Edwardsville pitchers Trey Riley, Andrew Frank and Kent Roberts. Riley worked 3.2 innings, giving up 6 hits and 2 runs. Frank was tagged for 9 runs, though just 4 of them were earned, in 1.1 innings.
O’Fallon can clinch at least a tie for the SWC championship Thursday when the Panthers welcome Granite City. Edwardsville is at Belleville East on Thursday.
The seeds for the Class 4A playoffs were released by the IHSA Tuesday. O'Fallon earned the top seed, the Tigers were second, Belleville West was third and Alton was fourth. West and Alton will play host to regionals. Times, dates and matchups will be released Wednesday at 4 p.m.
O’FALLON 11, EDWARDSVILLE 0 (6 innings)
O’Fallon 200 054 — 11 9 1
Edwardsville 000 000 — 0 2 4
O’Fallon (26-3, 10-1) — Dillon Weiss 1-4, Jared Dalonzo 1-4 RBI, Bradley Snyder 1-2 2B, Brad Harrison 3-4 3B RBI-2, Joe Guithues 1-1 RBI, Camden Bauer 1-3 2B RBI-3, Chase Hackstadt 1-3, Josh Gibson 0-2 RBI. WP – Harrison IP-6 H-2 R-0 BB-2 K-10
Edwardsville (24-5, 9-3) — Jake Garella 1-2, Cole Cimarolli 1-2. LP – Trey Riley IP-3.2 H-6 R-2 ER-2 BB-2 K-6; Andrew Frank IP-1.1 H-3 R-9 ER-4 BB-3 K-0; Roberts IP-1 H-0 R-0 BB-0 K-1