ALTON – Another game, another win.
That’s how it went for Marquette Catholic pitcher Max Goepel on Tuesday night at Moore Park.
The senior right-hander logged his second win in two days as the Explorers defeated Civic Memorial, 3-1, in a nonconference baseball game. This time, Goepel pitched a complete game and scattered six hits. He pitched one inning Monday and recorded the victory in the Explorers’ 15-0 rout of Mount Olive.
“Max said he wanted to come back on Tuesday and pitch against CM,” Marquette coach Tim Fahnestock said. “He threw the ball really well and he was pretty sharp tonight.
“He has been our ‘go-to’ guy on the mound,” Fahnestock said of the 6-8 Explorers. Goepel has registered four of their wins.
Is he their ace?
“I’d say so,” Fahnestock said.
Goepel added, “I think I was spotting the ball really well tonight and it definitely felt good to get the win after allowing one run in the first inning.”
CM, which slipped to 4-10, grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the first inning. Corey Price singled, stole second, went to third on an error and scored on Devin Daniels’ single. Both Price and Daniels went 3-for-3, but that accounted for all of CM’s hits.
“He (Goepel) threw a heck of a game,” said interim Eagles’ head coach Matt Buhs. “He did a good job of keeping us off balance.”
Buhs, a former standout athlete at Southwestern High and pitcher in the Texas Rangers’ farm system, had to guide the Eagles on Tuesday. Head coach Gary Bruening and main assistant Jeff Smith were ejected in CM’s loss Monday at Jersey and thus had to sit out one game. That put Buhs in charge and he kept the Eagles going.
“It was a one-game shot,” Buhs said.
He quipped, “For one game, I can do it. But I wouldn’t want to do it for 30 games.”
The Eagles’ leaky defense hurt their effort and cost tough-luck starting pitcher Jack Walker, who absorbed the loss. CM made three errors and they figured in Marquette’s first two runs against Walker. Overall, he gave up five hits and three runs, two of them unearned, in five-plus innings. Matt Lawrence finished up for CM.
“Jack threw well for us and he probably deserved a better fate,” Buhs said.
The Explorers parlayed two hits along with an Eagles’ infield error for a first-inning run. Then another infield error, this time on a bad throw, enabled Marquette to grab a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
Jacob File provided a run-scoring single in the sixth to supply the Explorers with a two-run lead and give Goepel some breathing room. He struck out seven, walked none and worked around two hit batsmen.
I’m pitching my best when I’m getting a lot of ground-ball outs,” Goepel said. “It was a good game to win. We’ve been playing a lot better the last four games.”
Fahnestock noted, “We didn’t click on all cycles offensively, but we did enough to get by tonight. And I think we are getting there. We started the season in an 0-4 hole and then we started pressing. We are playing better lately; we still need more consistency.”
Danny Holtz went 2-for-4 to pace the Explorers. File was 1-for-3 with an RBI and reached base twice. So did Liam Maher, Riley Bamper and Zach Weinman.
All of CM’s six hits were singles and the Eagles’ managed just four of them after the first inning. Buhs said it remains a learning experience for the young Eagles.
“We’re making just enough mistakes every game to knock us at the end of them,” he said. “I know that we are going through growing pains because we were playing five sophomores at the end of this game.
“But we still expect to compete.”
While CM is scheduled to welcome Highland on Wednesday in a Mississippi Valley Conference game, Marquette is idle until Thursday. The Explorers have a nonconference date at Greenville.
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 3, CM 1
CM 100 000 0 – 1 6 3
Marquette 100 101 X – 3 6 1
CM (4-10) – Price 3-3, Daniels 3-3. LP – Walker IP-5 H-5 R-3 ER-1 BB-2 K-2; Lawrence IP-1 H-1 R-0 BB-1 K-1
Marquette (6-8) – Holtz 2-4, Maher 1-4, Angleton 1-3, Weinman 1-2, File 1-3 RBI. WP – Goepel IP-7 H-6 R-1 ER-1 BB-0 K-7