By Mark Jurgena
While it may not seem like it, the Collinsville baseball program took another step forward Saturday morning.
Edwardsville had to scratch across two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win their own Class 4A regional crown by a 5-4 count over the Kahoks.
The win propelled the Tigers (28-9) into yesterday’s Illinois Wesleyan University Sectional against SWC rival O’Fallon. That game was played at Alton High School however results were unavailable at press time. Collinsville finished the season at 16-15.
It was the first season above .500 for CHS since 2018.
The Kahoks jumped on top in the opening frame as they took an early 2-0 lead on the top-seeded Tigers.
Carter Harrington and Ethan Bagwell both got hits with one out followed by a walk to Adam Bovinett to load the bases.
With two outs, Kolby Anderson tapped a ground ball down the first base line. Tiger hurler sophomore Joe Chiardo – an Alabama commit – allowed both Kahoks to score on the play but CHS could not tack on to the lead.
The Tigers immediately got those two runs back with Chiardo and Riley Iffrig both scoring runs for EHS to knot the game at 2-2. However, Kahok pitcher Kris Alcorn was able to limit the big inning with a bases-loaded strikeout.
Collinsville came back to load the bases with one out however Chiardo threw a double play ball to get out of trouble. In fact, the Kahoks could only send 10 hitters to the plate in the next three innings against the Tiger hurler.
Edwardsville took the lead on CHS in the bottom of the third when Greyson Rathgeb singled home Lucas Huebner to go up 3-2.
After that Bagwell, who was in relief, set down the next seven Tigers in a row.
In the top of the sixth, the Kahoks knotted the score.
Anderson took a hit by pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Alcorn reached on a ground ball to short, Luke Weller strolled to the plate with runners at first and second.
He laid a surprise bunt down the third base line. He was out at first but Kahok coach Brett Swip waived Anderson home from second and the McKendree football commit scored to tie the game 3-3.
In the bottom of the sixth Edwardsville threatened however the Kahok defense was up to the task. With runners on first and second and no outs, Bagwell picked up a strikeout with a breaking ball in the dirt, but Weller – the Kahok catcher – blocked the ball in front of him to hold the runners in place.
After that, Bagwell picked off the EHS baserunner at second for the second out and got a fly out to end the tense Tiger threat.
Collinsville gained a brief lead in the top of the seventh when Bryce Lemp walked and scored on an RBI ground out by Bagwell to give CHS a 4-3 lead. But again the Kahoks couldn’t tack on as they were unable to score the rest of the inning.
Edwardsville was able to push across the tying and winning runs in the bottom half of the last frame.
Harrington, Bagwell, and Alcorn had hits for CHS.
Bagwell pitched well in 4.2 innings of relief striking out seven and giving up two earned runs.
For Edwardsville, Krebs had two hits while Iffrig – an Indiana State commit – singled, and Andrew Hendrickson – a Lincoln Land commit – also singled in the seventh.
Hendrickson was also the winning pitcher giving up only an inherited runner in the seventh.
CHS 2 Alton 1
The idea of answering back when a team scores a run is so crucial to winning baseball.
Take the Collinsville win over Alton on May 24 at Edwardsville as an example.
In the top of the third Jayden Diaz smacked a two-out RBI double to left to make it a 1-0 contest but CHS had the answer in the bottom half.
Alcorn led off the third with a bunt single and moved to second on a throwing error. Weller then tied the contest with a 3-2 double to left to make it a 1-1 contest.
With two outs Harrington singled to center to score CHS courtesy runner Matt Shelton to put the Kahoks up 2-1.
Kahok pitchers Lemp and Bagwell set down 12 of the final 13 Redbirds to step to the plate to seal the victory.
Lemp tossed five innings giving up one hit, one earned run, walked two and struck out eight.
Bagwell got the save with two innings of relief while striking out four.
Alcorn had two hits for CHS while Harrington, Bovinett, Curtis Schaaf, Weller, and Blaine Martinez all had one for Collinsville.