WOOD RIVER — The sixth inning made the difference for the East-Alton Wood River Oilers in Monday afternoon’s Prairie State Conference contest against the Marquette Catholic Explorers in Wood River.
The game was tied 5-5 in the middle of the sixth, but the Oilers erupted for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to win the contest 10-5.
“We we’re knocking on the door the whole game,” Oilers' coach Dana Emerick said. “We broke though, that was the deciding inning.”
EA-WR improves to 10-13 overall with the win and it remains undefeated in the PSC with a 3-0 record.
“We would love to have a conference championship,” Emerick said. “It’s what we’re striving for this year.”
Ashley Knight of the Oilers led off the sixth inning with a single. Knight moved to second with Haley Shewmake’s infield single. Peyton Young’s single into centerfield loaded the bases and pitcher Morgan Moxey’s single into right field brought Knight home from third to give the Oilers a 6-5 lead.
Carley Campbell then came to the plate and smacked the ball into centerfield for a double, driving Shewmake, Moxey and courtesy runner Kate Booten in to make the score 9-5 in favor of EA-WR. Campbell scored the Oilers' 10th run after Rebecca Null, who singled earlier, attempted to steal second but was thrown out. However, Campbell ran home to score.
EA-WR banged out 13 hits against Marquette (4-11, 0-2 PSC) pitcher Tess Eberlin in the victory. The Explorers offense netted five hits against Moxey, who fanned seven batters.
Moxey earned her first strike out in the first inning, which gave the Oilers the third out and stranded two Explorer base runners.
“It’s what good pitching is all about,” Emerick said. “Getting them when you need them and coming through when the game is on the line and that’s what happened.”
Moxey attributed her performance to “moving the ball around.”
“I just wanted to win this game really bad,” Moxey said. “I think we had an awesome game today. The defense was great and so was the offense.”
The pitcher also went 3-for-4 at the plate with RBI singles in the third and sixth innings and a two-run homer in the fourth. EA-WR scored a run in the second to establish a 1-0 lead, but the lead was short lived, as Marquette’s Johnna Harshbarger scored in the top of the third. Harshbarger ran home from third, with the bases loaded, after Eberlin’s ground out to first.
Moxey’s RBI single in the bottom of the third made the score 2-1 in favor of the Oilers though.
The momentum would turn again in the fourth with Marquette's Emma Taylor walloped a two-run blast into right-field. It gave the Explorers their first lead of the game at 3-2. However, the Oilers responded quickly in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Peyton Young’s one-run triple tied the game 3-3 and Moxey’s two-run home run gave EA-WR a 5-3 edge. Katelyn Fitzgerald of the Explorers evened things up again with a two-run double in the fifth to make the score 5-5.
“We got behind a few times and the kids battled back,” Marquette coach Dan Wiedman said. “We got behind and had some big hits and made a few plays, but it seems like when we needed to finished some things up, we didn’t. We had some misplays in the outfield.”
Eberlin played with an injury she suffered in the third. The pitcher attempted to catch a line drive from Young and the ball hit the back side of her glove. Wiedman said she had a swollen finger. Eberlin took a short rest and continued pitching for the rest of the game.
“She battled the entire game, but we didn’t have enough to get it done tonight,” Wiedman said.
Shewmake, a junior outfielder, stole two bases against the Explorers — in the third and fourth innings. She broke a school record for stolen bases in a season, as she now has 23. In addition, Shewmake has 47 career steals. She’s knocking on the door of the record for career steals (52). The junior walked in the third and fourth and singled in the fifth.
“It was awesome,” Emerick said on the school record. “I’ve always told her she’s the straw that stirs the Oilers’ drink and she did that tonight by getting on base and stealing bases. She got our motor running.”
The Oilers will return to action at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday with a home game against Southwestern. The Explorers will also play on 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at home against Nokomis.