BETHALTO — The Civic Memorial Eagles are on a roll.
The Eagles won their fifth game in a row after coming from behind to beat the Granite City Warriors 7-4 in a non-conference game at the Bethalto Sports Complex on Friday. CM improved to 12-10 with 11 regular season games remaining.
“We’re playing better,” CM head coach Gary Bruening said. “Earlier in the year we were struggling. I think we’re starting to figure it out a little bit.”
Now, the Eagles are aiming to finish with their third consecutive winning season. Last year they finished 18-15 after winning nine of its final 11 games.
“We like to keep playing the way we’re playing right now and go on a little bit of a run here,” Bruening said.
The Warriors dropped to 3-18 with 14 regular season games remaining. Granite City is 0-4 against Mississippi Valley Conference teams this season.
“With the record like ours right now, they’re all tough and they all burn at you,” Granite City coach Scott Smallie said. “But we’re trying to get better. Regionals are coming up and two of our better pitchers were coming back off of our injured list and they threw today (Sam Watson and Trent Jones). We’re shooting for the regionals right now. We’re doing whatever we can to get better for regionals when everyone starts back 0-0.”
Last Friday, the Warriors ended a season-high 11-game losing streak with a victory over Cahokia. Granite City also had wins over East St. Louis and Dupo.
“Look at our schedule,” Smallie said. “There’s not a weak team in our schedule. We go out and battle with them. We went through a stretch of 12 games in 14 days and we didn’t win any of them. We want to play games, but we also didn’t have a ton of time to practice to work on those fundamentals. But we’ll figure it out. We’ll get back to Granite City baseball.”
Last year, the Warriors beat CM 11-5 at Granite City. On Friday, the Eagles came back from a 2-0 first-inning deficit to beat Granite City.
“It’s great for the team,” CM senior pitcher Jack Walker said. “We’re starting to get on a streak now and get rolling. We hope to keep going into conference play and try to do our best.”
Walker, who is one of three seniors on the Civic Memorial roster, picked up the win, giving up two runs on two hits and walking three in 5.2 innings of work. At one point, he retired nine batters in a row.
“One more hit in that first or second inning and we knock him out of the game,” Smallie said. “Give him credit. He settled in and he threw the ball in the zone and we hit a lot of lazy fly balls which were hanging in the wind.”
The Warriors took a 2-0 lead after scoring their runs on a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly by B.J. Niesporek in the top of the first.
But CM came back to tie it at 2-2 on a two-run single by junior Cory Price with no outs in the bottom of the first.
The Eagles scored three more runs in the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Colin Hall scored on a wild pitch to break the 2-2 tie. Then, Price delivered another two-run single to increase the lead to 5-2.
The Eagles got an RBI double by Konnar Loewen in the third and a sacrifice fly by John Whitworth in the sixth.
“It seems like we do that every game,” Smallie said. “We’ll go out and score a couple of runs and then we give it right back. We get the momentum on our side, then we turn around and give it right back to teams. We just have to do a better job of keeping people off base. No matter how we do it.”
The Warriors scored two runs in the seventh on an RBI single by Tyler Wheatley and an RBI groundout by Gabe Jarman.
CM and Granite City are back in action on Monday. The Eagles play a conference game against Triad and the Warriors play Mater Dei at home.