O'Fallon ends No. 20 Edwardsville's win streak

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

O’ FALLON – O’ Fallon High School head coach Jason Portz started his baseball coaching career under the legendary Edwardsville head coach Tom Pile. On Tuesday at beautiful Blazier Field, No. 20 Edwardsville (17-7; 7-3) came into town owning an 11-game winning streak and sole possession of first place in the Southwestern Conference. Portz’s win total at O’ Fallon sat at 299, just before the first pitch.

After Portz’s Panthers dismantled the Tigers 8-1 behind Panther junior right-hander Tyler Herbert’s (3-3) six-hit masterpiece, three things occurred due to the result of the SWC showdown: 1.) Portz had career win No. 300; 2.) Rival Edwardsville’s 11-game winning streak was put to an end; 3.) the three-time defending SWC champions from O’Fallon (16-8; 7-2) were back in very familiar territory atop the standings.

“I started my coaching career assisting Tom at Edwardsville,” said Portz. “To win No. 300 against the Tigers was truly gratifying.”

The Panthers scored three runs in the first inning against Tiger right-handed ace Cole Hagen. Hagen entered the contest with a perfect 5-0 record with a miniscule 0.62 ERA.

Junior Colin Holton, senior Brandon Tindall and junior Blake Deatherage drove home the three Panther runs, of which only one was earned. 

Edwardsville scored its only run against Herbert in the second. The run was unearned.

The Panthers put another three-spot on the board in the third, finishing the day for Hagen (3 IP, 6 R, 7 H, 3 ER, 1K, 1BB). Senior Tanner Hudson doubled home a run as did Panther senior Jake Jarvis to highlight the three-run third.

Hudson, who was 3-for-3, singled home another Panther run in the fifth and Tindall concluded the O’ Fallon scoring with a sac-fly in the sixth.

“I was shooting for right-center because they were pitching me away all day,” said Hudson. “The pieces fit for me all day and I want to thank my teammates for getting on base for me to drive them in.” 

Meanwhile on the mound, Herbert scattered four hits through the first four innings and then proceeded to knock down 10 consecutive Tiger hitters until allowing a pair of singles in the seventh.

“I kept the ball down on the corners and pitched to contact,” said Herbert. “That is they we are taught to pitch here at O’Fallon. The three runs in the first were very helpful for me.”

“I’ve been seeing the ball very well recently,” said Tindall. “I did a good job with two strikes. Tyler threw very well for us today. He threw a lot of strikes. He had complete trust in me and pitched an outstanding game.”

Panther junior centerfielder Jeff Hahs chipped in with two hits, including a double. Edwardsville was led by St. Louis University-bound first baseman Drew Curtis, who had a pair of singles in four trips to the plate.

“We played every phase of the game very well today and it starts with Tyler on the mound for us,” said Portz. “Tyler pitched to contact and our defense made all the plays behind him. We executed the small-ball game very well and put pressure on their defense. I was happy to see Tanner Hudson and Jacob Jarvis come up with big hits with men in scoring position for us.” 

Reporters Notes: I want to give special thanks to O’ Fallon head coach Jason Portz and his staff, O’ Fallon PA announcer Mark and scoreboard operator Dawn for all their hospitality. 

Blazier Field, from its all-turf playing service to its large roof-covered seating area around home plate and, lastly, to its outstanding spacious pressbox, is truly a delight. If I were to write another 10 best High School Stadiums feature story, Blazier would be among the best. With its grove of trees lining Route 50, it has the atmosphere to give my favorite Ed Flink Field in Lockport, a run for their money. Porter fans, a challenger has arrived.


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