EDWARDSVILLE – Belleville Post 58’s American Legion baseball team put up seven runs in the fifth to take a 9-2 win over Alton Post 126 in a District 22 game Monday night at Roy E. Lee Field on the campus of SIU-Edwardsville.

It was the district opener for the Legionnaires, who were coming off a very successful weekend, going 4-1 in a tournament in Ballwin, Mo.

“It was a tough game,” said Post 126 manager Doug Booten. “Our pitcher, Zack Knight, threw a good game tonight, but we made a couple of mistakes behind him, had some bad throws, and after we made those mistakes, we never could recover after that. And give the Belleville pitcher credit too. He kept us off-balance, and we didn’t hit the ball hard off him all night.”

The Legionnaires scored the game’s first run in the home half of the opening inning. Jayce Maag singled on the first pitch of the inning, took second on a wild pitch and was sacrificed to third by Gage Booten, who reached on a throwing error by the pitcher, scoring Maag with Booten taking second. Cullen McBride sacrificed Booten to third, but a pair of strikeouts ended the inning, leaving the score 1-0.

The Hilgards took the lead in the fourth, with one out as an error by the shortstop, and then scored twice, as back-to-back singles tied the game, and on the second hit, an error by the center fielder brought home another run that made it 2-1 for Belleville. The ensuing batsman was hit by a pitch, but a strikeout and a ground out ended the inning.

Post 126 did have a chance in the home half as, with two outs, Ryan Best was hit by a pitch, and Owen Stendebach doubled to put runners on second and third, but a strikeout ended the inning.

Belleville then exploded for its seven-run fifth to further its lead, starting with a lead-off triple and an RBI single to make it 3-1. Jacob Weidner was then brought in to pitch for Alton, and after a single to put runners on first and second, and a strikeout for the first out, a walk loaded the bases, but Weidner struck out the next batter for the second out. A base hit, however, drove n two runs, and after another walk to reload the bases, John Durrwachter was brought in to pitch. A hit batsman scored a run, and then the big blow came, a bases-clearing triple that scored three runs and made it 9-1. A ground out ended the inning.

Alton got a run back in the bottom of the fifth, starting with a walk to Maag, and Booten being hit by a pitch to put the first two runners on. After a force out at second and a strikeout, Maag scored on a wild pitch, with McBride going to third. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases, but a fly out ended the inning. Alton was then retired in order in the sixth and seventh to preserve the Hilgards’ 9-2 win.

Post 126 did have a very successful weekend in Ballwin, taking four of five games in the tournament, and Booten sees it as a good sign of things to come.

“It’s a very good sign,” Booten said. “We went 4-1, and in the last game, if we win it, we win it all. We had a lot of success, and it was a very good weekend for us.”

Post 126 plays Highland Tuesday night at SIUE in a makeup game of one postponed by rain last week, with the first pitch coming at 8 p.m. Booten knows that his club will need to bounce back quickly from Monday’s loss.

“That’s what we need to do,” Booten said. “This district is competitive once again, and we need to bounce back.”

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