BY RICH HULL O'FALLON WEEKLY SPORTS
O’Fallon won their sixth straight St. Judes Classic Tournament this past weekend, dominating the three teams that they faced scoring 33 runs and giving up just one.
Their first round opponent on Friday was Valmeyer (IL). The Pirates are no slouch of a team. They are ranked number one in their region for small schools in Illinois and have only one loss in their conference. The Panthers, however, weren’t worried at all. They jumped to an early 7–0 lead in the first inning started by an RBI single by Jared Dalonzo and an RBI double by Bradley Snyder. A fielder’s choice followed by a wild pitch added two more runs. an RBI single by Jordan Richardson, an RBI triple by Josh Gibson, and an RBI double by Dillon Weiss rounded out the first inning scoring. Camden Bauer had an RBI double in the second to push the score to 8–0.
Dominic Smiley scored in the fourth inning off a triple by Richardson. Weiss knocked him in with his third hit of the night to make the score 10–0.
Max Schaeffer shut the Pirates down in the fifth inning to end the shortened game. He struck out two and allowed only one hit in the shutout. But he was saving his best performance for the championship game on Saturday.
Next up for the Panthers was neighboring Mascoutah in the Tournament’s semi-final game. The Panthers scored early and often again in this game, too, leading 8–0 after three innings. The Indians did manage a run in the fourth; but O’Fallon answered in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI from Weiss.
The final score was 9–1. Sophomore Logan Boente got the win for the Panthers as he gave up just the one earned run on six hits and a walk over seven innings. He also struck out seven Indians’ batters. Jordan Richardson provided most of the offensive with five RBIs on just one hit.
The championship game put the Panthers against Lincoln (IL). The Railsplitters are another good team from up around the Peoria area.
Max Schaeffer saved his best stuff for this game. He was perfect through three and two-thirds innings before an error in the fourth gave Lincoln their lone baserunner for the game. He went on to complete the no-hitter striking out three and not allowing a walk.
While Schaeffer was keeping the Railsplitters guessing, the O’Fallon offense jumped all over the opponent’s pitching. They scored 10 runs in the first three innings of the game to put it out of reach. The Panthers forced the starting pitcher out in the first third of the inning after scoring four runs starting with an RBI single by Bradley Snyder. Camden Bauer had an RBI, followed by an RBI double by Jordan Richardson and a two-run single by Dillon Weiss. They added three in the second and again in the third.
O’Fallon would add four in the bottom half of the fourth, showing great discipline at the plate, as the Railsplitters’ pitchers had trouble with their control and loaded the bases with walks and then walked in two runs. Two more would cross the plate to make it 14-0 in favor of the Panthers. Schaeffer took the mound and closed out the game, getting the final batter from Lincoln to ground out.
“Our pitching was terrific,” said Varsity Head Coach Jason Portz. “Max was dialed in the whole tournament. And when you have someone like Dillon Weiss getting on base as often as he does in his leadoff role, we are going to have the opportunity to score a lot of runs.”
Portz also liked the discipline that he hitters showed at the plate. “They do a good job being aggressive at the plate with those pitches in the strike zone while laying off those on the edge of the plate.”
Coach Portz also likes this tournament and the teams that play in it. “This is a good way for us to see different opponents and let loose a little and have fun and enjoy the game.”
The Panthers improved to 25–3 overall but have a tough conference game coming up on Tuesday at Edwardsville. O’Fallon is just one game ahead of them in the standings.
“They are a good opponent and are also highly ranked in the state. I expect them to give us everything that they have,” said Portz. First pitch is at 4:30 at Tom Pile Field.