After a period of uncertainty with many local events being forced to be cancelled and even forecast all week long predicted rainouts, MERBL had a successful Opening Day this past Saturday with over a half dozen games played in Collinsville. Teams from Troy, Collinsville, Maryville, and O’Fallon took part in the action.
One of the games on opening day was a matchup of the defending champion Sidewinders playing out of Collinsville versus a combined Collinsville and O’Fallon squad. The contest was played at 11 am at Fletcher Field in Collinsville. The defending champions played host for the game.
The Sidewinders came out firing on the mound. They managed to strikeout the first two batters of the inning and only allowed one walk. A pop fly out to center field ended the inning for the O’Fallon/Collinsville squad.
Despite the long break without league action, the Sidewinder’s bats were red hot in the bottom of the first inning. Their leadoff hitter got the season started with a hard hit single. Then the home team managed to take advantage of a slew of walks, steals, HBP, and wild pitches to take a 4-0 lead without another hit. O’Fallon/Collinsville did manage to get their first out of the inning during the next at bat with a groundout, but that also extended the lead to 5-0.
Another string of mistakes from the defense saw the deficit increase to 7-0 with the bases loaded, but they also did manage to earn their second out with a strikeout. This was followed up with a single to go up 8-0. A pair of home runs, including an inside-the-park grand slam, continued the dominance and made the score 13-0.
The offense kept rolling and hammered a double and stole third to have another runner in scoring position. Two batters were walked following this to load the bases yet again. The Sidewinders capitalized off a passed ball to score two runners and go up 15-0. Another walk followed this and taking of home on a passed ball followed, but the inning finally ended with a strikeout.
The top of the second started off slow with two strikeouts and a HBP. But the visitors finally started to show some signs of life with a single and a subsequent stealing of second to put a pair of runs in scoring position. A deep ball to left field looked like it could swing some momentum, but the Sidewinders defense held strong and snagged the ball to escape the inning with their shutout intact.
After allowing 16 runs in the first inning, the visitors knew they needed to vastly improve their performance on defence. At first they seemed doomed to a similar inning after letting up a pair of walks and a single to start the inning, but they managed to catch a pop fly in left to slow the offense. Another walk drove a runner home to make the score 17-0, but this was followed by a pair of groundouts that only drove one more run in.
After holding their opponents to only two runs in the past inning, the visitors started to show some signs of life. Three of their first four batters reached base safely in the top of the third, which loaded the bases the first time all day for them. In the blink of an eye, three walks and a passed ball allowed them to close the score to 18-3.
The offense tagged on two more runs with a deep single and a groundout to close the deficit to 13. Some more skilled based running helped the visitors trim the lead to 18-6. A pair of singles and a walk thinned the lead to 18-7 with the bases loaded, but the time limit on the game expired before the rally could draw the game any closer.
A full league schedule is available on the league’s website merbl.org under the “MERBL High School Division” tab.