ALTON — Marquette Catholic's Max Goepel had
command of his pitches and looked great on the mound Monday, the problem was so did Metro East Lutheran's Kory Loew.
In the end somebody had to win and it was Goepel's Explorers edging Loew's Knights 2-1 in the Prairie State Conference opener. It was Marquette's first win of the season, improving to 1-4 and 1-0. MELHS dipped to 2-1 and 0-1 in the PSC.
“That's the second good outing for Max,” Marquette head coach Tim Fahnestock said. “He threw Wednesday against O'Fallon and did a real good job. Then he went a complete game today, so we're real proud, plus it gives our bullpen a chance to get a rest because we're coming off some rough games last week. It was nice to have a day that we didn't have to go to the bullpen.”
Goepel said he felt good from the start as he spotted his fastball well in the win. He went all 7.0 innings, fanning one, walking two and scattering two hits while allowing one unearned run.
“It felt good to just throw strikes,” Goepel said. “I didn't do that that well last week. Throwing strikes helps a lot and we haven't done that too well this year. It felt good to throw like that. I felt good from the start and I had good defense behind me.”
On the other side, Loew went 6.0 innings, striking out three, walking two, hitting a batter and surrendering five hits and two runs, both earned.
“We play that game again 10 times, they win five, we win five,” Metro head coach Joel Rempfer said. “It could have gone either way. You've got two really good pitchers throwing really well. You've got guys hitting the ball, you've got guys making plays. It was a good game and it's one of those unfortunate ones where somebody had to lose, but that's the way it happens sometimes. I'm proud of the way we played and hats off to them too, they played real well.”
MELHS wasted little time drawing first blood. In the top of the first Jake Scheibal reached on a Marquette error, allowing him to advance to second. He moved to third on a passed ball and then scored when Loew grounded out to shortstop, giving the Knights a 1-0 advantage.
The Explorers drew even in the bottom of the second though. Chris Angleton poked a single through the right side of the infield and made it all the way to third on an errant pickoff throw. Liam Maher followed drawing a walk and stealing second.
A wild pitch sent Maher to third as Angleton attempted to score, but was thrown out at the plate. Brady McAfee did his part though, driving a ball to left field for a RBI single, scoring Maher and knotting it at 1-1.
McAfee's hit was misjudged in the outfield, much the same way Scheibal's fly ball was in the top of the first. A brisk wind was noticeable throughout the game and Rempfer thought that played a role in the shaky outfield defense.
“The wind was kind of tough,” Rempfer said. “You could tell with the angles, with people back pedaling a little more than taking the clean angle to the ball. Looking at the flag right when we got here you could tell. It was a fairly brisk day and that did come into play with those two flies to the outfield.”
The game remained in a stalemate until the bottom of the sixth. Only two base runners between the two teams reached second base or beyond before the sixth.
Marquette's Zach Weinmann made it to third base in the third inning where he was stranded and Metro's Nick Manker got to second on a single and an error in the top of the sixth where he was stranded.
A leadoff walk to Nate Siener to start the bottom of the sixth proved to be deadly. Siener stole second and a one-out flare to right field by Jacob Eggering moved him to third. That's when Loew uncorked a wild pitch that bounced in front of the plate. Jordan Brown couldn't handle it and Siener raced home to score what proved to be the game-winning run.
Metro threatened in the seventh. Loew coaxed Goepel's first walk of the game, but was quickly picked off. It immediately shifted the momentum back to the Explorers as they were able to close out the win.
Goepel admitted being mired in a pitchers' duel helped him keep his edge.
“I always try to stay focused, but that helped a lot,” he said of going toe-to-toe with Loew.
Fahnestock was happy. Marquette opened the PSC with a win and picked up its first of triumph of the season and it was the type of win he hopes can be a spark for his squad.
“This was big, plus it was our first conference game,” Fahnestock said. “This is one of our goals, we want to go undefeated in conference and we knew this was our fifth game of the season. This was step one of reaching our goals.”
Danny Holtz, Eggering, Angelton, Maher and McAfee logged the hits for the Explorers, who now return to action at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against Dupo.
PRAIRIE STATE CONFERENCE
MARQUETTE 2, MELHS 1
MELHS 100 000 0 1 2 1
Marquette 010 001 X 2 5 2
Marquette (1-4, 1-0) — Zach Weinmann 0-2 HBP SB, Nate Siener 0-1 SAC BB SB, Danny Holtz 1-3 SB, Jacob Eggering 1-3, Chris Angelton 1-3, Liam Maher 1-1 BB SB, Brady McAfee 1-2 RBI SB.
WP — Max Goepel 7.0IP 2H 1R 0ER 2BB 1K
MELHS (2-1, 0-1) — Nick Manker 1-3, Jake Scheibal 1-3, Kory Loew 0-2 BB RBI, Alex Peck 0-2 BB.
LP — Loew 6.0IP 5H 2R 2ER 2BB 3K 1HBP