By Anthony Jones
Triad baseball clinched their third consecutive outright Mississippi Valley Conference title last week.
This season’s clinching win came on May 8, when the Knights hosted the Civic Memorial Eagles. Their purple and yellow foes entered with an 11-12 record, contrasted to the side’s 17-10 mark.
Triad struck first in the contest as Nic Funk delivered a two-run RBI in the bottom of the first for a 2-0 lead. Brady Coon and Donny Becker scored the game’s first runs.
The scoring floodgates rushed open in the second, allowing the Knights to go ahead 11-0. Wyatt Bugger, McGrady Noyes, Hayden Bugger, Coon and Becker all tallied RBI in the frame.
Civic Memorial earned their first run of the game in the fourth and continued their rally to pull within 11-2. The next three half innings would each feature a single run, delivering a mercy-rule win for Triad in a 13-3 final.
Brown finished with a complete game on the bump for the victors, fanning eight in the win. He allowed just five hits in the outing, but that total stands as his worst of the season.
The win moved the Knights to 8-1 in league play, which guaranteed nobody could catch them in the title race.
Coach Jesse Bugger talked about the value of the conference title race, “The most important thing for us is preparation for the postseason. Our conference is always pretty balanced and does a good job.”
The Knights traveled to Bethalto two days later for their final conference game of the season. They once again clipped the Eagles, winning in a 4-1 final.
Most of the game’s scoring came in the first, where Triad took a 2-1 advantage. The only other scoring of the night came when the Knights trotted across the plate twice more in the top of the fifth.
Funk did all seven innings of mound work for Triad in the win, allowing just six hits in the win. His run support came from Wyatt Bugger, TJ Suter and Donny Becker RBI.
Triad returned to the road again on May 12 to visit Belleville East. The Lancers entered with an 18-11 record and having knocked off Edwardsville the previous day.
The regularly scheduled seven innings was not enough to decide a victor as the two teams found themselves in a 2-2 deadlock. Eight, nine or ten innings would not be sufficient either, as it would take until the eleventh frame that Triad scored a 3-2 victory.
Coon tossed five and third for the Knights before TJ Suter tossed five and two-thirds scoreless.
Returning to action the following afternoon, Triad picked up their fourth win of the week. This win came during a visit to the Marquette Explorers.
Austin Brown hurled his second complete-game shutout of the week, fanning nine Explorers across six innings. He received seven runs of support in the win.
RBI in the 7-0 win was led by two from Funk. Hayden Bugger, Wyatt Suter, Carter Vandever and Becker all pushed one across the plate as well.
Triad also learned what their postseason bracket will look like last week.
The Knights, who earned a number one seed, will play their first postseason contest against seventh-seeded Taylorville on May 24. Jerseyville will host that 4:00 matchup.
If the Knights win, they would advance to the May 27 Regional championship at Jersey. Their opponent would be the winner of fourth-seeded Highland or sixth-seeded Jersey.
The team’s next action would come on May 31 and June 3 in the Centralia Sectional. Based on seeding, they are most likely to face Marion in the semi-finals and Mt. Vernon in a potential title game.