Photo by Diane Cox
The Roxana Shells, 2014 Regional Champions.
In their third meeting of the season, the Roxana Shells acquired the regional title Saturday against the Southwestern Piasa Birds at Metro East Lutheran High School with a 4-1 victory in extra innings.
In what was a predicted pitchers duel, the Roxana Shells and the Southwestern Piasa Birds battled into an extra inning before the Shells walked away with a 4-1 win. The 22-11 Piasa Birds had faced the 15-15 Shells twice throughout regular season play and walked away with the win on both occasions.
"We have a good ball club, we know they have a good ball club....we knew it was going to be a Heineman vs. Martz match-up," said Roxana head coach Nathan Smay. "For a while it was an error here, an error there, and thats what gives you a 1-1 ball game...we knew it was going to come down to a late inning break and we finally got the break we needed."
The Shells lit up the scoreboard early in the first with Chance Foss, the Roxana lead-off man, getting on base with a single. In the third inning Southwestern senior Brendan Schiller reached first on an error, resulting in the getting on the board due to a Shells over throw in a pick-off attempt to tie the game 1-1.
All the Shells had to do to secure the Regional title was continue solid pitching and hold with defense. Martz struck out Southwestern pitcher Spencer Heineman to get the first out in the bottom of the eighth.
Roxana senior Jacob Wood then sealed the Regional win for the Shells when he caught a pop-up from Southwestern junior Blake Lawson in foul territory.
"Nelson (Martz) pitched a great game," said Southwestern head coach Brian Hanslow. "We struck out way too much, what was it, We thought the one advantage we had was to force them to play some defense and we couldn't do it today."
"Spencer pitched a great game," Hanslow said. "Those are probably the two best pitchers in the area, on our level at least."
"They (Shells) got some timely hits today and they just got past us," Hanslow said. "Lawson was able to make a similar big play last year in a championship game....he's a real good player and I'm sure he'll be going over that play again and again, but that's baseball and how it goes sometimes."
The season ends for the Southwestern Piasa Birds while the Roxana Shells advance on to Warrensberg on Wednesday, May 28th for the sectional championship.