BETHALTO — After playing eight games in seven days, the Civic Memorial Eagles crawl back to their nest for a much needed break. But there was no rest for the weary until after taking two wins from the Roxana Shells in a double header on Saturday at the Bethalto Sports Complex.
The Eagles scrambled to knock out 8-6 and 14-4 victories over Roxana, racking up their second and third wins in just two days. CM beat East Alton-Wood River 14-0 on Friday.
The Eagles improved to 7-10 while the Shells fell to 6-8 after the non-conference battle on CM's home turf.
Pitching was a challenge between the Eagles and the Shells as there were a combined 11 pitching changes throughout both games.
"Unfortunately our pitching wasn't very good for us today," Roxana head coach Scott Harper said. "We put some things on and got a lead in the first game and we knew it's been a long week and it was going to be tough."
The Shells took an early five-run advantage over the Eagles in Game 1, but the Eagle didn't shut down. A big hit from senior Chaz Johannigmeier in the third inning put his team back in the game with the Shells holding a 5-4 lead.
The Eagles contained the Shells in the top of the fifth before they added four more runs in the bottom half of the frame to nab an 8-6 lead. Roxana was only able to add one more tally mark in the top of the sixth inning, but it wasn't enough.
"First game we started down five to nothing," CM head coach Gary Bruening said. "It was a big comeback. We started hitting the ball well. Our guys could've quit but we didn't and I like that. I believe that set the tone for the second game. Johannigmeier had that big hit in the first game to put us back in it offensively. Defense hasn't been our strong suit as of late, but today we did very well on both offense and defense."
After the break between games, the Shells brought their short memory and were in high spirits at the start of Game 2.
Tyler Andrus took the mound for the Eagles as junior Chance Foss kicked it off for the Shells with a lead off triple. Blake Vandiver worked his way on base, sending Foss across the plate to put the Shells up 1-0 early.
Logan Reardon joined Vandiver on the bags with a double, leaving runners on second and third for senior Randy Skiff with no outs. Skiff found a gap in right center, scoring Vandiver and Reardon to make it 3-0, but he got caught trying to take second base for the first out of the inning and the Shells were unable to scratch out any more runs in the inning.
As with Game 1, the Eagles didn't retreat after falling behind the Shells. CM went on an offensive drive, scoring nine runs off six hits while having the bases loaded three times in the bottom of the first. Sophomore Corey Price went 2-2 with a single and a triple in the bottom of the first inning alone, racking up three RBIs.
Coming across the plate for the Eagles in that first-inning explosion were: Price, Andrus, Johannigmeier, Lukas Jones, Devin Daniels, Brandon Hampton, Caleb Bruhs and Colin Hall.
Roxana senior Seth Chester found his way to second on an error in the second inning and was driven home by Zach Golenor with a single to cut it to 9-4.
Answering in the fourth inning, Jones scored on a single by Daniels before the Eagles loaded the bags one more time with Daniels, Bryant and Hall. Price and Buhs added RBIs, scoring Daniels and Bryant before the end of the inning to elevate CM's lead to 12-4.
The Shells defense held the Eagle through the fifth inning, but the game came to an end early in the sixth after Hall worked his way around the bags to score after being hit by a pitch and Price scored his third run of the game. The final two runs brought the score to 14-4 to send the Shells home in the bottom of the sixth with the short-game triumph.
"This is baseball," Harper said. "If you don't throw strikes and work ahead it makes it tough. We made our share of mental mistakes and misplays today. There's that connection. If you don't throw strikes and keep people on their toes and ready to go. We've had a full week this week, but that's our job when you're on a team. Today we didn't get our job done."
Considering the tight schedule the Eagles had throughout the past week, Bruening is content with his team's performance against the neighboring Shells.
"We struggled early in the season so getting a win last night and two today is big for us," he said. "When Roxana hit us for three to start off the second game we came back and scored nine and didn't look back. We swung the bats well and it was a pretty good day for us. Price had a great day, when he's on we score because we have some guys behind him that can put the ball in play."
The Shells return to conference play next week on Monday when they play host to the Hillsboro Hiltoppers followed by Staunton on Wednesday for a pair of South Central Conference contests.
The Eagles board the bus Monday to Waterloo with a 4:15 p.m. start time in the Mississippi Valley Conference game.
Roxana gets its chance at revenge on CM at 10 a.m. next Saturday when the two programs square off at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.