BETHALTO – Brandon Hampton and Devin Daniels supplied the Civic Memorial Eagles with plenty of comeback magic Wednesday.
The Eagles erased a five-run deficit to overtake Jersey, 12-7, in a Mississippi Valley Conference baseball game at the Bethalto Sports Complex. CM improved to 12-13 overall and 3-3 in the Valley. Jersey, which split its two conference games with the Eagles, fell to 12-9 and 4-2.
“It was a big win in the conference because if we go to 2-4, we’re out of it,” CM coach Gary Bruening said of the competitive conference chase. “We’ve gone from 0-3 in the Valley to 3-3.”
Hampton, a sophomore pitcher and Daniels, a senior outfielder, had much to do with the Eagles latest win. Hampton worked 6.2 innings, registered the victory and hiked his record to 5-0. He also had two hits and drove in three runs. Daniels smacked a base-loaded triple in a seven-run second inning to overturn Jersey’s five-run first.
“That was a big inning and we broke it open,” said Daniels, who was 2-for-4 with a pair of hits in the second. He singled to start it and then delivered his key triple to right center field in helping the Eagles win for the eighth time in their last 10 games.
Daniels said, “Our attitude is good and we just need to keep going.”
The left-handed Hampton kept going in a 123-pitch outing. He gave up five hits and survived six walks, including four in the first inning.
“He pitched on guts,” Bruening said. “Brandon kept us in the game and he’s 5-0 for a reason. He helped himself today and Devin has been hitting the ball really well.”
Hampton said, “I was just trying to fight through the first inning. After that, I started hitting my spots. It was a good win for us.”
Reliever Tyler Andrus got the final out after Jersey scored twice in the seventh. The Panthers left the bases loaded in that inning and in the fourth.
Chace Tallman’s two-run single highlighted the Panthers’ opening inning. Tallman went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs. Jacob Witt was 2-for-2 with a triple and reached base four times. However, eight errors, seven of them in the infield, hounded Jersey.
“We’ve been kind of a hit-and-miss team all season and that’s not good to be like that,” Jersey coach Darren Perdun said. “After the first inning, it seemed like we quit playing. We have to fix some things.”
Panthers’ starting pitcher Will Mortland absorbed the defeat. He allowed four hits and six runs in 1.1 innings. Reliever Jake Varble gave up six runs, but just one of them earned, over the final 4.2 innings.
Perdun said, “We were pretty lackluster today. It’s gut-check time for some of our guys.”
Zac Cato and Andrus chipped in with a pair of RBIs for CM, which made the most of seven hits. The Eagles used a three-run third to increase their advantage to 10-5 and led 12-5 after six innings.
“We started the season 0-5, but we’ve been playing better,” Bruening said. “We’ve stayed positive and everybody is pumping up each other. Our pitching has turned things around for us and our defense has improved. Defense wins games.”
Hampton figures the Eagles will extend their winning ways.
“We’ve got a good hitting team,” he said.
He’s also giving CM what it needs on the mound.
“I feel like I’m pitching well,” Hampton said.
CM 12, JERSEY 7
Jersey 500 000 2 – 7 5 8
CM 073 002 X – 12 7 1
Jersey (12-9, 4-2) – Bryant 1-4 2B, Witt 2-2 3B, Kanallakan 0-2 RBI, Tallman 2-4 RBI-3, Kennedy 0-2 RBI. LP – Mortland IP-1.1 H-4 R-6 ER-6 BB-2 K-2; Varble IP-4.1 H-3 R-6 ER-1 BB-3 K-3
CM (12-13, 3-3) – Hampton 2-5 RBI-3, Jones 0-3 RBI, Daniels 2-4 3B RBI-3, Buhs 1-4, Bryant 1-2 2B, Cato 0-2 RBI-2, Andrus 1-3 RBI-2. WP—Hampton IP-6.1 H-4 R-7 ER-3 BB-6 K-4; Lawrence IP-0 H-1 R-0 BB-1 K-0; Andrus IP-.1 H-0 R-0 BB-0 K-1.