BETHALTO – There’s plenty of work ahead for the Civic Memorial High baseball team.
The Eagles started their season in a rocky way this weekend. They lost at Mount Vernon, 7-6, in eight innings Friday and then suffered a 16-1 setback to Edwardsville at the Bethalto Sports Complex.
“I think it’s probably a growing pains thing,” coach Gary Bruening said of the relatively young and inexperienced Eagles. “We have some things we need to clean up.”
Mount Vernon scored three times in the bottom of the eighth to erase CM’s 6-4 lead Friday. The Eagles had scored twice in the top of the inning.
Edwardsville then proved resourceful in bouncing CM. The Tigers used 11 hits, 11 stolen bases, eight walks, two hit batters and six errors to rout the Eagles a day later. An eight-run seventh put the finishing touches on it.
“It doesn’t matter who you play,” Bruening said. “You can’t give a team that many chances and free passes.”
And particularly if that team is Edwardsville. The Tigers, who won 32 games last season and reached the Class 4A super-sectional, appear to be reloading rather than rebuilding.
“Our guys played well today,” Tigers' coach Tim Funkhouser said of their season opener. “Our plate appearances got better as the game went on. We don’t have a set lineup, but we have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things.”
Matthew Zielonko is one of those guys. He went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the fifth and a two-run double in that explosive seventh. Teammate Collin Clayton added two hits and drove in a pair of runs. Aaron Jackson belted a two-run triple in the seventh.
“We have a good match-and-mix lineup,” Funkhouser said. “It’s good to see Matthew do what he did because he’s a talented player. I think he hit below .200 last season, but he has worked at getting better and summer ball gave him more confidence. That's not an anomaly. He has some power.”
Daniel Lloyd, the first of four Edwardsville pitchers, worked three scoreless inning to get the win. The Tigers built a 6-0 advantage by the fourth inning and never looked back.
CM broke through for its lone run in the fourth. Devin Daniels and Lukas Jones singled before Daniels scored on a wild pitch. Caleb Buhs contributed a triple with two outs in the first inning. Overall, the Eagles had four hits, including John Whitworth's third-inning single.
Bruening used four pitchers and starter Zac Cato absorbed the loss. He allowed three runs in three innings, though only one run was earned. Edwardsville scored twice in the second inning on three errors, a walk and three stolen bases.
“There’s no sugar-coating it – we didn't play well and we made a lot of errors,” Bruening said. “We’ll get better, but we need to make plays behind our pitchers and give them more support.”
It’ll be a busy time for the Eagles next week. They welcome Breese Central on Tuesday, play Thursday at Southwestern and then travel to Moore Park in Alton for a doubleheader next Saturday against the host Redbirds. First pitch is at 11 a.m.
EDWARDSVILLE 16, CM 1
Edwardsville 021 311 8 – 16 11 0
Civic Memorial 000 100 0 – 1 4 6
Edwardsville (1-0) – Burris 1-1 2B RBI, Clayton 2-5 RBI-2, Weimer 1-3 RBI, Garella 1-4 RBI, Jackson 1-3 3B RBI-2, Shakeel 1-3 2B RBI, Riley 1-1, Zielonko 2-4 2B HR RBI-3, Krebs 0-2 RBI, Zimmer 1-2. WP – Lloyd IP-3 H-2 R-0 BB-2 K-4
CM (0-2) – Whitworth 1-3, Buhs 1-3 3B, Daniels 1-3, Jones 1-2. LP – Cato IP-3 H-3 R-3 ER-1 BB-2 K-2