No. 2 Edwardsville Outlasts No. 11 O'Fallon 2-1 In 11 Inning Pitcher's Duel

By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

EDWARDSVILLE, IL – In a battle of Southwestern Conference rivals, No. 2 Edwardsville outlasted No. 11 O’Fallon 2-1 in eleven innings on Tuesday night at Edwardsville’s Tom Pile Field.

The first six innings was a battle between each team’s respective aces on the mound; Edwardsville’s Daniel Lloyd (Parkland signee) and O’Fallon’s Chris Holba (East Carolina signee). The entire game featured only seven total hits in 22 frames, thanks to solid pitching and defense by both ball clubs.

O’Fallon mustered their only offense of the day early on in the first against Lloyd. Senior third baseman Kyle VanBevern walked with one out and advanced to second on a bloop single into shallow center field by junior rightfielder Bradley Harrison. Lloyd walked O’Fallon junior cleanup hitter Bradley Snyder with the runners in motion for a double steal. Edwardsville catcher Joe Wallace, unaware it was ball four, attempted to throw out the trailing runner at second base and VanBevern scored on the throwing error into center field, giving the Panthers an early 1-0 advantage. Lloyd escaped further damage when catcher Jacob Holl, who threw out two runners during the ball game, lined into a double play to second base.

The early run was all the senior righthander Lloyd would allow in his six innings of work for the Tigers. He held down a tough O’Fallon lineup with a steady diet of offspeed pitches, allowing only one hit in the first, with four strikeouts and three walks. O’Fallon coach Jason Portz said, “I was really impressed with Lloyd’s ability to pitch backwards. He made us chase his slider and could locate his offspeed when behind in the count. We could have had better situational at bats, but I felt we played outstanding and am happy with our effort in a great ball game.”

Matching Lloyd pitch-for-pitch was O’Fallon’s senior ace Holba. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound righthander had a lethal sinker/slider combination going for seven innings, striking out five along the way. The only blemish on an otherwise great outing was Aaron Jackson’s leadoff homer to left field in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at one. Edwardsville skipper Tim Funkhouser said, “that swing really shows Aaron’s power. I thought he was fooled, but he kept his hands back and found the barrel, hitting it out to left.”

Once Lloyd exited after the sixth, and Holba after the seventh; Jackson and Harrison both moved to the mound from their respective positions (third and right field) to continue the pitcher’s duel into extra innings. Jackson threw four scoreless innings of relief for the Tigers, none bigger than in the tenth frame.

With one out in the top of the tenth, O’Fallon loaded the bases on Jackson thanks to a leadoff walk to Harrison, a bunt single by Holl, and a hard single up the middle by Holba. Edwardsville junior centerfielder Collin Clayton fielded Holba’s line drive cleanly and fired a strike to home plate, stopping Harrison at third. Jackson then induced designated hitter Joe Guithues into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Funkhouser said, “that was a big double play ball to Jordan Hovey. He didn’t panic when the ball came up on him a little bit, and (senior second baseman) Mitchell Krebs was big on the bag end throwing a strike to first.”

The decision to play for two outs in the middle of the diamond was a key turning point in the game, and Krebs was due for one last bit of heroism in the bottom of the eleventh. With Harrison on the mound for the Panthers already having thrown three scoreless innings of relief, runs were hard to come by.

With two outs and runners on first and second thanks to a fielder’s choice and a walk, Krebs stepped to the plate in a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup with Harrison. Down 1-2 in the count, Krebs took a borderline breaking ball for ball two, and then worked the count full. The senior second baseman lined a walk-off double deep to right field over the head of Holba, scoring senior right fielder Matt Zielonko and giving the Tigers a hard fought 2-1 conference victory.

Funkhouser added, “It’s a great rivalry and we have great respect for one another. It’s a playoff atmosphere. They (O’Fallon) do so many things well that it points out your weaknesses. It’s a game where we have to bunt and run the bases better, but I’m happy our guys kept their heads throughout the game.”

Portz also added on the rivalry, “We knew coming in with this was going to be a great ballgame, that’s true anytime you play against teams at the top of the Southwestern conference. We competed, and it’s April 14th. These games make you better in May, this is a great club.”

Offensively for Edwardsville, Hovey walked twice, going 1-for-3 with a first inning double off Holba. Zielonko went 1-for-2 with a single, two walks, a hit by pitch, and a stolen base, in addition to scoring the game winner.

Junior righthander Jake Garella relieved Jackson and threw a scoreless top of the eleventh to earn the win on the mound for the Tigers, striking out one in his hitless inning of relief. Edwardsville improves to 11-0 on the season, 4-0 in Southwestern Conference play, while O’Fallon drops to 11-4, 3-1.

Check out the Illinois Scout Blog for additional "Plus" scouting information from today's ball game to be added shortly.

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