GRANITE CITY — A week ago, the Granite City Warriors began their season with a doubleheader sweep.
On Saturday, the Warriors were looking to get another doubleheader sweep. But the Washington Panthers had other ideas.
Washington improved to 3-0 by sweeping the Warriors under chilly conditions in a twin bill at Babe Champion Field. The Panthers won 7-0 in the first game and 3-0 in the second.
Washington, which is located 12 miles east of Peoria, is looking to finish with another successful season. Since Kyle Wisher took over coaching duties in 2009, the Panthers have won two Class 3A regional titles and finished with a winning season every year, including a 25-12 mark in 2014.
“They’re a solid program every year,” Granite City coach Scott Smallie said. “They come down and stay during the week and come back and play us on the weekend. That’s a good club over there. Their record is going to be pretty good by the end of the season, that’s for sure.”
Granite City dropped to 3-4. The Warriors will look to bounce back on Tuesday, when they play at Belleville West to start their Southwestern Conference season.
“This will be the first time that we’ll be visitors, so we’ll get to bat first, so maybe we can score some runs in the first inning and we can put them behind the eight ball for once,” said Smallie, whose team has been shut out three times this season.
Granite City played its second doubleheader of the season on Saturday. The Warriors began their season with a doubleheader sweep over Alton Marquette on March 20 at Granite City, winning 11-4 in the first game and 9-3 in the second.
Granite City has two doubleheaders remaining in its season. The Warriors play two at Triad on April 11 and have a twin bill with Chatham Glenwood on May 1 at home.
“Doubleheaders are tough,” Smallie said. “We start conference games this Tuesday and we go on Tuesday and Thursday (for conference games) and then we get doubleheaders on the weekend. It (the doubleheaders) is an opportunity for kids who don’t pitch in conference games to get out and show what they can do so they can end up throwing in conference games. It gives us a good opportunity to see what we have.”
Granite City recorded just 10 hits in the two games against the Panthers, five in each game. Senior center fielder D.J. Miller had three hits in the first game and senior left fielder Alec Peterson had two hits in game two.
“It was a tough day,” Smallie said. “You have to pitch and play defense enough to hold them, which we did. But we didn’t catch the break offensively.”
In the first game, the Warriors had a chance to score in the bottom of the fifth, when they had the bases loaded with one out and they were trailing 3-0. But senior first baseman Ryan Steen flied out to center fielder Jimmy McCaughey, then McCaughey threw the ball to shortstop Christian Dominguez to force out Miller — who singled — at second for the double play.
In the bottom of the fifth in Game 2, the Warriors had back-to-back singles by Peterson and junior Gabe Jarman, but both were picked off at first base.
Cole Cook and Ryan Shelabarger combined for eight strikeouts and three walks on the mound for Washington in Game 1. In Game 2, Shane Shemlow and Austin Ulick combined for three strikeouts and one walk.
“Give them all of the credit in the world,” Smallie said. “They came down and had a lefty (Cook) who threw really well in the first game. The second guy (Shemlow) threw a ton of strikes. They stayed down in the zone and we hit a lot of pop ups.”