BELLEVILLE — After a 1-5 start, the Belleville West Maroons were glad to start their Southwestern
Conference season with a victory on Tuesday.
“It’s great,” Belleville West sophomore center fielder Jack Lanxon said. “We’ve been practicing hard all season and it’s good to come out here and finally get something to show for it.”
The Maroons cruised to a 13-0, five-inning victory over the Granite City Warriors in the league opener for both teams at Belleville West. A year ago, Belleville West ended the Warriors’ season with a 13-0 win in a first-round game of the Class 4A Belleville East Regional en route to their first regional championship since 2007.
“They did everything that they supposed to do,” Granite City coach Scott Smallie said. “It was a very similar game to the regionals last year. They came out and short-gamed us.”
The Warriors dropped to 3-5 overall and 0-1 in league play. They lost their third straight game and have been shut out for 19 consecutive innings. Granite City lost 7-0 and 3-0 to Washington on Saturday in a doubleheader at Babe Champion Field.
“We’ve got to do a better job of mentally preparing ourselves and focusing and getting ready for the game and going out and executing,” Smallie said. “It’s not the effort that’s the problem. We’re not getting that big hit and that timely play on defense that gets us to the dugout.”
Granite City will look to end its winless streak at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, when it plays the Belleville East Lancers in a conference game at Babe Champion Field. The game was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was moved to Wednesday because of potential rain in the forecast on Thursday.
“We have to flush this one (the loss to Belleville West) down the toilet and be ready to go and expect another good game tomorrow against another Belleville school,” Smallie said.
In the regional tournament meeting last year, the Maroons held the Warriors to two hits and took advantage of four Granite City errors. They went on to beat O’Fallon in the semifinals and Belleville East in the championship game to advance to sectionals.
On Tuesday, Belleville West held the Warriors to one hit and took advantage of five Granite City errors. The Maroons took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run single by Lanxon, then they scored six runs in the second, one in the third and four in the fourth.
“We came out and we just didn’t make some plays we needed to make and that’s the bottom line,” Smallie said. “They came out and got good two-out hits, clutch hits and made the plays they were supposed to make and we just didn’t. That’s baseball.”
The Maroons (2-5 overall, 1-0 in SWC play) returned numerous players from last year’s regional championship team, including seniors Matt Klosterman, Destin Wilson and Jacob Wilson. Klosterman struck out four and walked two to pick up the complete-game shutout and the Wilsons each had two hits.
Junior first baseman David Pulley singled with one out with a runner on first in the top of the second for the Warriors’ only hit.
Senior Stevie Hartline picked up the loss on the mound for the Warriors. He gave up 11 hits and struck out two in three innings of work.
“He comes out and throws a good effort,” Smallie said. “He threw about 60 pitches and got the ball to where we wanted him to get it. We just have to make those plays behind him. As soon as we do that, we’re going to turn this around.”