Edwardsville wins 10th straight, downs Alton
April 26, 2013
By Sean Duncan
EDWARDSVILLE – After a slow start to the season, Edwardsville has been one of the hottest teams in the state. On Thursday, the Tigers showed exactly why, as they turned a scoreless tie in the fourth into an easy 8-1 Southwestern Conference victory over a tough Alton (15-5, 2-4) club.
The victory was the 10th straight for the Tigers (16-6, 6-2), who, after rallying past Belleville West on Wednesday, holds the top spot in the Southwestern Conference.
Locked in a pitchers’ duel between Alton senior left-hander Brad Henry (4-1), a McKendree recruit, and Edwardsville unsigned senior right-hander Cole Hagen (5-0), the Tigers exploded for seven runs on five hits in the fourth to mount a 7-0 advantage.
Senior DH Alec Pizzini delivered the big blow when he blasted an opposite-field three-run homer. Pizzini had missed two weeks prior due to an injury.
“Alec came through big for us,” said Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser. “I thought a lot of guys really battled at the plate.”
St. Louis-bound first baseman Drew Curtis, who’s one of the hotter hitters in the state, ignited the seven-run outburst by leading off the inning with a double. Curtis has eight doubles, six homers and 27 RBI this season. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Curtis was intentionally walked twice in the game and also grounded out.
Unsigned senior shortstop Jordan Heckler also delivered a two-run single in the inning. Left fielder Alex Meyers added two hits, a run-scoring single and scored once for the Tigers.
The offense was more than enough for Hagen, who has emerged as an ace for the Tigers. The 6-foot-2, 171-pounder allowed three hits, one run, struck out three and walked three in his five innings work. Working from a low ¾ arm slot, Hagen’s sinking 83-86 mph fastball gave Alton trouble all game.
Hagen entered the game with a 0.47 ERA and has allowed 14 hits in 34.2 innings.
“He’s been outstanding for us all year,” said Funkhouser of Hagen, who should become a coveted unsigned pitcher in Illinois. “He’s tough on hitters because he consistently sinks his fastball.”
Alton, which is headlined by Indiana-bound catcher Brent Gibbs, didn’t help itself on Thursday. The Redbirds were picked off four times with runners in scoring position. Four innings were ended by running gaffes, including a double play on a fly out to conclude the game. Left-handed hitting sophomore Matt Hopkins went 1-for-2 with a walk, and Ray Bailey had a double for Alton.
Read in-depth scouting notes from game at Illinois Scouting Blog
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