ALTON — Efficient.
That's the perfect word to describe Marquette Catholic's 2-0 win over Triad on Monday in the play-in game of the Class 3A Jersey Regional at Gordon Moore Park.
Senior hurler Max Goepel threw a complete-game three hitter on 79 pitches, while the game only lasted one hour and 26 minutes. Marquette improved to 18-11 with the win, while the Knights closed their campaign at 7-25.
“We did a great job,” Explorers' head coach Tim Fahnestock said. “I can't ask anymore of Max, the defense did everything they had to do. We're starting to play pretty good baseball, firing on all cylinders. We got the monkey off our back, got our first regional win in a couple of years. We've got some good momentum rolling and these kids can do whatever they put their minds to.”
Marquette lost to Traid 7-3 on March 21 in Alton. The Explorers had seen their seasons end the last two years in opening round playoff games against the Knights, too.
“We're playing a lot better as a team all the way around,” Goepel said comparing the Explorers now to the team that lost to Triad in March.
It was all good around the horn for Marquette on Monday afternoon. Goepel tossed seven innings, scattering three hits, walking two, fanning four and hitting a pair of batters. Shortstop Zach Weinman and third baseman Jacob Eggering made a couple nifty plays in the field and the Explorers turned a pair of double plays, including one to end the game.
Then it was Weinman and Eggering directing the offense. Weinman scored both runs for Marquette and Eggering had both RBIs with a sac fly in the first and a RBI single in the third.
“I remember that (Triad loss) where we could have made some more plays and hit better in that first game,” Eggering said. “I think today we hit when we needed to and we made pitches when we needed to.”
Eggering credited his success to his approach at the plate on Monday.
“I knew they were probably going to start pitching me away, so I've been practicing taking the ball to right and I took the first two to right, sacrificing to right and hit the ball down the line to right,” Eggering said.
Things could have gotten ugly quickly for the Explorers in the game. The first pitch from Goepel to John McGee was hit back up the middle off of Goepel's ankle for a single. The senior ace limped around the mound a moment and then shook it off and dug back in without any issues.
“It didn't hurt at all,” Goepel said smiling. “I was fine and shook it right off.”
He got out of the first unscathed and his offense rewarded him for it. Weinman singled to left center and advanced to third on Liam Maher's one-out single. Eggering then lifted a fly ball to right field to score Weinman and stake Marquette to a 1-0 lead.
In the third it was Weinman drawing a leadoff walk and stealing second and then scoring on Eggering's two-out single down the first baseline to elevate the lead to 2-0.
As for the Knights, they didn't advance a runner past first base outside of the first and the seventh. A leadoff walk to Will Mauer in the seventh saw him become the lone Triad runner to make it to third base. Mauer went to third on a one-out single by Zach Kraabel, but Goepel then induced a grounder to second off the bat of Kevin Smith. Marquette's Nick Messenger scooped it, stepped on second and threw to first for a 4-3 double play to end it.
The rugged regional continues as the No. 4 seeded Explorers prepare to square off with top seed Jersey at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Jerseyville. Fahnestock knows how potent the Panthers can be, but he also knows how well his squad is playing, so he expects another doozy.
“They're going to throw (Crick Kimble) at us and we know we're going to face their best and that's the way it's going to be from here on out. We played them up there in a close game, 5-3 (loss) earlier in the year,” Fahnestock said. “These kids, if they play baseball the way they can, we can play with anybody so I'm looking forward to it and I hope the kids come prepared and ready to play.”
Marquette will counter Kimble with pitcher John Hughes. Hughes is 3-5 with a 2.92 ERA on the season and Fahnestock has faith in his talented senior No. 2 starter.
“When he's on he can dominate,” Fahnestock said. “That's what I'm counting on. I told him, 'Hey, it's your senior year, the games are numbered and you need to step up.' We'll see what happens.”
3A JERSEY REGIONAL
MARQUETTE 2, TRIAD 0
Triad 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Marquette 101 000 X — 2 5 0
MARQUETTE (18-11) — Zach Weinman 1-2 BB SB, Danny Holtz 1-3 SB, Liam Maher 1-3 SB, Jacob Eggering 1-2 SAC 2 RBIs, Riley Bamper 1-2, Nick Messinger 1-2.
WP — Max Goepel 7.0IP 3H 0R 0ER 2BB 4K 2HBP
TRIAD (7-25) — John McGee 1-3, Nate Funk 0-2 HBP, Will Mauer 0-1 2 BBs, Zach Kraabel 1-3, Kevin Smith 1-3, Cole Witzig 0-1 HBP.
LP — Danny Ratulowski 4.2IP 5H 2R 2ER 1BB 2K
Mack Langdon 1.1IP 0H 0R 0ER 0BB 0K