BY JOHN HOUGH WEEKLY REPORTER
O’FALLON – It was a perfect week of baseball at Blazier Field.
The O’Fallon Panthers defeated previously unbeaten Alton 5-4 and took care of Collinsville 12-2 to go 2-0 in the Southwestern Conference. On Saturday they took down Harlem 11-1 in five innings and then dispatched Chaminade 5-1. The Panthers are now 11-1 riding a nine-game winning streak, which is music to head coach Jason Portz’s ears.
“We put our focus into our conference games,” Portz said. “[Alton] was undefeated coming into our place, and this time last year Collinsville beat us early in the season. We were ready to perform.”
Despite having one of the best records in the entire metro area, Portz isn’t emphasizing it just yet.
“[We] don’t worry too much about our record if we’re sitting at 6-6 or 11-1. Right now we’re playing clean, fast baseball and we’re together. That’s what we’re trying to do at this juncture in the season.”
The pitching staff has carried O’Fallon for the most part so far and was splendid again last week. Hayden Juenger went 5.1 innings against Alton giving up eight hits, four runs, two of them earned. He struck out seven batters to record his first win of the season after receiving no-decisions in his first two starts. Logan Boente continued his fine early season form as he went the distance, albeit five innings against Collinsville allowing two runs and five hits. His record stands at 4-0, and his ERA is a microscopic 0.84.
Brayden Arnold, a Collinsville transfer has been a welcome addition to the Panthers in 2017. The junior threw a combined five innings and two appearances and notched his third win of the season against Chaminade. He allowed one run and three hits against the Red Devils to improve his record to 3-0.
“This is his first year here working through our system,” Portz said. “Coach Seibert is trying to get him to stand a little bit taller and get some more downhill tilt to his ball. [He’s] giving us a good effort every time he comes out.”
The Panthers resume conference play on Tuesday at 4:30 pm against East St. Louis at home and then travel to take on Belleville East at 4:30 pm on Thursday. The following two days see O’Fallon play two non-conference games. The first matchup is Friday afternoon against Civic Memorial at Blazier Field, and the next game will be at a somewhat bigger venue. O’Fallon will meet up with the Hillsboro Hawks at Busch Stadium on Saturday at 5:00 pm.
“I’m real happy with how our guys performed this week, it’s a good start to our conference season,” Portz said. “We hope to carry it into next week with a big game against Belleville East and a really good and talented [Civic Memorial] team who’s going to challenge us quite a bit. We’re definitely excited about that.”