Every baseball fan dreams of digging their cleats into the dirt at a Major League Baseball stadium. Over the weekend the Panther baseball team got to live out that dream at Busch Stadium.
Following Sunday’s 4-3 win by the Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds, the Panthers of O’Fallon Township High School took to the field in a non-conference game with the Eureka Wildcats.
The Panthers got the scoring started quickly in the top of the first inning. With two outs in the first, senior Bradley Harrison brought home junior Christian Koechner on a ground ball. Koechner was pinch running for senior Dillon Weiss who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.
After being silenced by Wildcat pitching in the second and third innings the Panthers got on the board again in the fourth inning. Senior Camden Bauer scored for OTHS on a ground out to third base by junior Chase Hackstadt. Bauer’s run was enough insurance to seal the game for O’Fallon who went on to defeat the Wildcats 2-0 in seven innings.
Junior Max Schaefer went the distance on the mound for O’Fallon in the seven inning affair. Schaefer gave up just four hits, walked one batter, and recorded four strike outs in the non-conference win at Busch.
Although he was more than happy his team won in the special game, O’Fallon head coach Jason Portz was not concerned too much about winning or losing.
“Winning the baseball game was very secondary to the experience. Our kids just really enjoyed the experience all around. Getting to watch a full Cardinal game and then play is a full day event and we really played well,” said Portz.
The Panther team dressed 47 players for the game including members of the freshman, and junior varsity roster.
Prior to winning under the lights at Busch Stadium on Sunday the Panther team added three wins to their record during the week. Included in the three wins was a big conference wins over the Edwardsville Tigers and Granite City Warriors.
O’Fallon’s bats really came to life last week and scored 23 runs in the two games combined. Against Edwardsville freshman Josh Gibson had a big game at the plate. Gibson went two for two with three RBI’s against the Tigers. Also having big games for O’Fallon were Weiss and Bauer who combined for four hits and four runs.
Harrison had a stellar performance on the bump for the Panthers. In six innings pitched Harrison allowed just two runs and five hits while striking out eight.
“Our guys didn’t let the hype of the game get into their performance at all,” said Portz. “It really showed a lot of our team cohesiveness and how well they can play together.”