GRANITE CITY — Everything went right for the Alton Redbirds in a Southwestern Conference baseball game Thursday at Babe Champion Field.
And all went awry for the host Granite City Warriors.
The result was Alton’s 20-0, five-inning smack down that included an 11-run opening inning. The Redbirds, scoring in every inning, improved to 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the SWC. The Warriors dipped to 2-10 and 1-3 as they absorbed their fifth successive setback.
“We played well. It was a good team effort,” AHS coach Todd Haug said of the Birds’ lopsided victory. “We got quite a few guys in the game and it was a good opportunity for them.”
The Redbirds made the most of 10 hits, including two by Noah Rathgeb in the first inning. Teammate Mikey Hampton added a pair of hits, including a double and RBI. The winners benefited from 10 walks, a hit batter and six Granite City errors. Four bases-loaded walks in the first inning highlighted that major eruption.
“We got the first out of the inning, then all of a sudden, we couldn’t throw strikes,” Warriors’ coach Scott Smallie said. “The defense fell asleep and we made some errors.”
He added, “It snowballed pretty quick and once they (Redbirds) started getting way ahead, it’s hard to come back. It’s hard to come back on any team in that situation, but especially a team like Alton.”
Rathgeb contributed a two-run single in the first inning, which included seven walks. The Redbirds tacked on two more runs in the second, one in both the third and fourth and five in the fifth. Robby Taul didn’t get a hit, but reached base four times as the Birds won their third consecutive game.
“It’s nice to have a game like that,” Haug said on the one-sided score, “but we tried to be respectful about the way we played it.”
In other words, he substituted freely and the Redbirds’ reserves kept the line moving. Backup catcher Seth Boschert provided a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a run-scoring double in the fifth. Reserve Marcus Schomburg supplied a two-run single in the fifth and sub Matt McDonald belted a two-run triple in the fifth.
“Kudos to them,” Haug said. “Seth also did a good job with the pitchers and Matt had a nice hit. Marcus continues to be a hard worker.”
Starting pitcher Gary Volz, just a sophomore, continues to be a winner. He improved to 4-0 with one inning of work. Max Hunter, Steven Nguyen and Jon Witt followed him over the next four innings, with Hunter working the second and third.
Collin Barrett’s two-out triple off Nguyen in the fourth was the Warriors’ lone hit.
“After that first inning, we decided to get Gary out of the game,” Haug said. “He’s not a surprise with the way he’s pitching this season. He’s our next big-time pitcher.”
Gabe Jarman, the first of three Granite City pitchers, took the loss. He allowed two hits and seven runs in 0.2 innings. Five walks, three of them with the bases loaded, cost him. Relievers Cory Slinkard and Brandon Merz were tagged for 13 runs over the final 4.1 innings.
“It’s hard to score 20 runs in a game, but Alton took advantage of its opportunities,” Smallie said. “They also hit the ball and pitched well, keeping it in the zone.”
The four AHS hurlers combined for six strikeouts and walked one.
Haug was relieved the Redbirds were able to play another SWC game, following their gratifying 4-1 win Tuesday at Edwardsville. On Thursday, It began raining in the first inning of a chilly afternoon, but then the clouds disappeared.
“I’m thankful we got the game in because I thought they might pull the plug on it if it kept raining,” he said. “I thought we might have to go back home, but we got some sunshine.”
Then the Redbirds rained more runs on the Warriors and Alton maintained its sunny disposition. The Warriors were caught in the eye of the scoring storm.
“That’s not how I thought the game would go,” said Smallie, expecting Granite City to challenge Alton.
He noted, “We have another game tomorrow (Friday) and we will try to get better.”
The Warriors have three games scheduled the next two days, including a doubleheader Saturday with Triad. The Redbirds head to MICDS in St. Louis for a Saturday twinbill. Alton meets Carlyle on Monday at GCS Ballpark in Sauget and then christens its new field at AHS on Tuesday against conference foe Collinsville.
ALTON 20, GRANITE CITY 0 (5 innings)
Alton (11)21 15 — 20 10 1
Granite City 000 00 — 0 1 6
Alton (8-3, 3-1) — Steven Nguyen 0-2 RBI-2, Noah Rathgeb 2-2 RBI-2, Matt McDonald 1-2 3B RBI-2, Jacob Kanallakan 0-2 RBI, Sam Ballard 0-1 RBI, Ryan Boyd 1-1, Aaron Bonnell 1-2 RBI, Scott Boschert 1-1 2B RBI, Mikey Hampton 2-2 2B RBI, Marcus Schomburg 1-1 RBI-2, Derrick Allen 0-2 RBI, Jacob Bozovich 1-1. WP – Gary Volz IP-1 H-0 R-0 BB-1 K-2; Max Hunter IP-2 H-0 R-0 BB-0 K-2; Steven Nguyen IP-1 H-1 R-0 BB-0 K-1; Jon Witt IP-1 H-0 R-0 BB-0 K-1
Granite City (2-10, 1-3) — Collin Bassett 1-2 3B. LP – Gabe Jarman IP-.2 H-2 R-7 ER-7 BB-5 K-2; Cory Slinkard IP-3.1 H-3 R-8 ER-2 BB-5 K-1; Brandon Merz IP-1 H-5 R-5 ER-5.