WOOD RIVER — Monday was like a reoccurring nightmare for the East Alton-Wood River Oilers while playing the rival Roxana Shells.
After watching the Shells splurge for a 16-run inning in a 22-2 loss at Roxana on April 2, the Oilers watched their rivals gorge themselves with a 12-run first inning on the way to a 20-5 win in Wood River on Monday.
The win lifted the Shells to 10-12 on the season, while EA-WR watched its record plummet to 3-29 after the loss.
“It's tough and they're throwing a couple freshmen there, so they're learning on the job, which is a hard thing to do,” Roxana head coach Scott Harper said of the early influx of runs Monday. “We had some quality at-bats and were disciplined and were fortunate. We've run into some bad luck where we've had trouble scoring runs, so to be able to come out and do that and hit some balls in some places, find some gaps, find some holes this time, that really helped us quite a bit to get things started.”
It was frustrating for EA-WR head coach Kyle Duncan and his squad, which had hoped for some redemption after falling big to their rivals earlier in the season. Duncan did think the Oilers played better this time around though.
“That's kind of the story of our year,” Duncan said. “We usually play tough with teams, but we'll have one inning where we have some errors and a lot of walks. We had 10 walks today and some errors and that's extra runners on base. It's a lot of mental mistakes, base running mistakes, we've just got a lot to learn. Some of the older guys are a little better at it, but they've got a lot to learn, too.
“It's tough because you don't want to take one on the chin from Roxana, but they did do better than they did last time. It is what it is and you can't do much about it. I think the rivalry is still pretty good, so it's hard to lose to those guys especially.”
Offensively the Shells banged out 20 runs on 14 hits. At the heart of that offensive onslaught was sophomore Zach Golenor, who was 2 for 3 with an inside-the-park home run, a walk and a team-leading five RBIs hitting out of the No. 9 spot.
Golenor admitted it was his first ever homer. It came in the second when he ripped it to left, the EA-WR outfielder fell down going for it and the lanky Golenor turned on the afterburners to race around the bases. Joe Ingram, who tripled the at-bat before, also scored on the four bagger.
“I've never hit a home run in my life,” Golenor said grinning. “It felt good, but when I got home I was winded. I guess I'm not conditioned.”
It wasn't his goal to notch his first homer, but his approach was to be smart at the plate.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play and do my job at the plate,” Golenor said.
But it was the top of the first inning that set the tone for the game. After EA-WR starter Lucas Wells got Chance Foss to pop out to lead off the game, he induced a ground ball from Blake Vandiver, but an infield error allowed the speedy Shells' center fielder to reach safely and opened the flood gates.
All-in-all 16 Roxana hitters marched to the plate in the top of the first, banging out eight hits and coaxing another three walks and a hit by pitch.
The monster inning was highlighted by two-run doubles from Logan Reardon and Billy Mathis, a RBI double from Adam Moore and a RBI triple from Randy Skiff.
The frustrating part for the Oilers was because of the error, all 12 runs were unearned. It chased Wells after just 0.2 innings pitched, making way for Hunter Hall to take the mound.
“Yeah, that's pretty bad, but it's just a lot of mental mistakes, base running and we've still got a lot to learn,” Duncan said.
EA-WR didn't wither away though. The Oilers responded with three runs in the home-half of the first against Roxana starter Tanner Davis.
Tyler Hamby led off with a base knock and Zaide Wilson walked to kick start the bottom of the first. Then junior third baseman Blake Marks pushed a RBI single out to right center to cut it to 12-1. A one-out error on Jake Hei's grounder let Wilson and Marks score and cut it to 12-3.
After Golenor's homer made it 14-3, the Shells tacked on four more in the third, highlighted by a two-run single from Mathis, who finished with four RBIs, to push it to 18-3.
A leadoff walk to Hei in the bottom of the third came back to haunt Roxana when Cody Blaylock drove him in to cut it to 18-4.
Hall then walked the bases loaded to start the fourth and gave way to Chris Hamby on the mound. Hamby got two quick outs, but surrendered a two-run single to Golenor to balloon Roxana's lead to 20-4.
EA-WR wasn't done, as it scored once more in the home-half of the fourth. Marks singled through the middle and Blake Weishaupt doubled him home to make it 20-5.
The Oilers hit the ball hard at times and Duncan praised them for it, he just wishes it would come more consistently.
“Are kids are actually hitting the ball,” he said. “Some of our freshman are even hitting the ball, we're just not connecting them. We will get one or two an inning and then not drive anything in. A couple times we had bases loaded and didn't even score a run out of it. It's stuff we've got to fix.”
Harper credited the work of Davis on the hill for the Shells. He went the distance, fanning five and walking five, while scattering six hits and allowing five runs, three earned on 105 pitches. Long offensive innings for Roxana left Davis idle and Harper pointed to how hard it is to remain focused in those situations.
“It's tough, being the visiting team so you're second going out to pitch. He'd already been warmed up and then we have that long inning so I told him to go play some catch and keep his body loose,” Harper said. “He was hitting today so it was a chance for him to totally focus on the pitching and when you get 12 runs in the first inning, it's hard to go out there and focus. You think the game is over and really you've got five frames at least, maybe seven, where you have to focus on your pitching.”
But for the Roxana bats Monday did wonders. The Shells had dropped four of five entering Monday.
“It's a big confident booster,” Golenor said. “We just did our job at the plate and put the ball in play and then let our defense work.”
ROXANA 20, EA-WR 5
Shells 12 2 4 2 0 — 20 14 3
Oilers 3 0 1 1 0 — 5 6 1
SHELLS (10-12) — Chance Foss 2-4 3 RBIs, Blake Vandiver 1-4, Logan Reardon 2-2 2B 2 RBIs, Ethan Johnson 0-2 BB, Josh Rudd 2-2 3 BBs RBI, Randy Skiff 1-2 3B 2 BBs HBP 2 RBIs, Adam Moore 1-1 2B SAC 2 BBs 2 RBIs, Billy Mathis 2-3 2B 4 RBIs, Joe Ingram 1-2 3B BB HBP, Zach Golenor 2-3 HR BB 5 RBIs.
WP — Tanner Davis 5.0IP 6H 5R 3ER 5BB 5K 2HBP
OILERS (3-29) — Tyler Hamby 1-4, Zaide Wilson 0-3 BB, Blake Marks 2-3 BB RBI, Blake Weishaupt 1-3 2B RBI, Jake Hei 0-2 BB RBI, Hunter Hall 1-2, Cody Blaylock 1-2 BB RBI, Bryce Bazzel 0-0 BB 2 HBPs.
LP — Lucas Wells 0.2IP 3H 8R 0ER 3BB 0K 1HBP
Hall 2.1IP 9H 12R 8ER 7BB 2K 1HBP
Chris Hamby 2.0IP 2H 0R 0ER 0BB 2K