Panthers baseball racks up four wins

Vonner Panek started and threw five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, and
striking out five in a recent game against Granite City. (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – The OTHS baseball team had a very successful week adding four wins and improving their overall season record to 21-7.  

It was also another record breaking week for senior Josh Gibson, who set the single season stolen base record. The record had been held since 1987 by Steve Vollmer with 40 stolen bases. Gibson, who has also broken the career stolen base record and career varsity games played record, currently has 42 stolen bases for the season and leads the St. Louis area.

The Panthers started the week with a 4-0 victory over Granite City. Two freshman pitchers, Mike Larson and Corey Quintal, combined to throw the shutout. Larson started and threw five innings, allowing two hits, no runs and struck out three. Quintal entered in relief and threw two innings, allowing one hit, no runs and struck out two.  

Cody Bauer led the Panthers with two hits in three at bats and Wes Collins hit a home in the third inning, bring his total home runs to five on the season.

The team battled Waterloo on Tuesday and came out on top with a 7-6 win in extra innings. Gibson and Collins each collected multiple hits with Gibson going 3 for 5 with a home run, bringing his total home runs to five on the season. 

Kaden Joggerst started on the mound with Drew Tebbe and Logan Lowery in relief.  

OTHS was the visiting team at Blazier Wednesday night, after the game was moved from Granite City due to weather. The Panthers took an early lead with seven runs in the second inning to defeat Granite City with a final score of 8-4. Vonner Panek started and threw five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, and striking out five.

The team ended the week on Friday on the road with a 11-5 win at Freeburg. Down by four runs after the fourth inning, the Panthers took the lead with five runs in the top of the fifth. Luke Gasser started and threw six innings, allowing eight hits, five runs, striking out five and walking none. Quintal entered in relief in the seventh inning. The OTHS Panthers combined for a total of 14 hits, including multiple hits by Drew Tebbe, Tyler Stanton, TJ Morgan, and Logan Lowery.  

The Panthers end their regular season this week with two games against Edwardsville, Senior Night on Friday versus Breese Central, and final regular season game Saturday versus Triad.

Panthers split week with Belleville West, shut out Civic Memorial

Ben Koenig delivering a pitch in the Panthers 12-3 win over Belleville West
(Submitted Photo)

The OTHS baseball team continues to roll through the season, taking down opponents.

On Tuesday, April 2, the Panthers took to the road to take on Belleville West. OTHS would win by a huge margin in their first conference game, taking down the Maroons 12-3.

However, in a rematch held at Blazier Field on Thursday, April 4, Belleville West brought out their A-game and defeated the Panthers 9-4.

Josh Gibson hits a 3 run home run in the Panthers 12-3 win over Belleville West (Submitted Photo)

Not letting the loss a day earlier impact them, the O’Fallon boys rallied quickly and shut out Civic Memorial at Blazier Field, 1-0, on Friday, April 5.

Athlete Spotlight – Arnold tosses perfect game, makes college decision

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

Braydon Arnold

Braydon Arnold played a big role in the O’Fallon Township High School Baseball Team’s success during the 2017 campaign, but this past week may have been the biggest in his young career.

The junior pitcher-outfielder made an impact everywhere he played in the field, showcasing plus defense in center, quality starts on the mound, and dangerous power at the plate.

Arnold’s versatility caught the eye of Maryville University Head Baseball Coach Seth Von Behren and this past week Brayden announced his commitment over Twitter to become a Saint and play for Maryville.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Baseball Panthers have a perfect week

BY JOHN HOUGH
WEEKLY REPORTER

Braden Arnold scored his third win of the season against Chaminade on Saturday. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

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.

Jordan Richardson hits a dinger against Harlem on Saturday. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

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.”



Athlete Spotlight – Logan Boente throws heat for Panthers

Logan Boente

O’Fallon Boys Varsity Baseball player Logan Boente recently helped boost his team to an incredible win. The team recently traveled to Emerson, Georgia to compete in the Perfect Game- Rawlings Select Classic Tournament where they emerged the champions. Boente’s pitching against Savannah Christian in the semifinal round was one of the key factors in getting to the championship round.

Head Coach Jason Portz spoke about the junior right handed pitcher, saying “Logan had an outstanding week last week earning the win on Saturday versus a 17-1 Savannah Georgia team.” Portz also said that Boente threw for 7 innings, had 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts and “topped out at 84 miles per hour with exceptional movement and command of 3 pitches.” The Panthers won the game 1-0.

Boente, who’s in his third season as a Varsity Baseball Panther, has been playing since he was 5 or 6 years old. “Pretty much my whole life,” Boente said. He also mentioned that he’s essentially had the same teammates this whole time, lending to a strong bond.

“It’s awesome to have a bunch of friends that I’ve played ball with my whole life. The bond is so strong between us, and it actually makes it a lot more fun and really easy to play with them,” he said.

Asked about his great game versus Savannah Christian, Boente was humble and answered “The defense behind me backed me up. I was really comfortable throwing strikes and letting those kids make contact because I knew the rest of the team would put up a great defense for me.”

“Logan is the consummate team guy, He comes to practice every day and puts in the time it takes to get better. He is very unselfish in that he doesn’t mind if he is a starter or a relief guy and will fill whatever role is needed to help the team win. We like to use him in a role that will best benefit our team. Logan is battle tested over his 2 years of varsity experience and is 11-1 over his career as a varsity starter. There are few scenarios that he comes into that he hasn’t been in before,” said Portz.

Boente, the son of Faye and Steve Boente, said that he’s looking forward to what the rest of the season holds. “I’m definitely excited. Our pitching staff is pretty deep, and we’ve got a lot of great hitters. The returning seniors are great leaders for our team, and it just seems like we’ve all got a great chemistry. Everybody just fits in,” he said.

Boente also pitched five innings and took the win in the team’s March 30th 12-2 win against Collinsville.

AOTW - Bradley Harrison

Athlete of the Week – Bradley Harrison

Harrison finishes season undefeated

AOTW - Bradley Harrison   Bradley Harrison ended his varsity baseball career at O’Fallon with a 12 – 0 in 13 starts. His ERA was a mere 0.47, he struck out 124 against 24 walks and gave up just six earned runs all season. He can hit, too. He finished the season with a .396 batting average with 6 home runs and 35 RBI.

It was, however, what he did this past week that puts him the spotlight this week.

He pitched seven innings against Alton and won the game 2 – 1, and Regional Championship; and, seven hard-fought innings against a pesky Bellville West team in the Sectional semifinals. Oh yeah, he also hit at a .750 pace in the playoffs to lead the team.

Varsity Head Coach Jason Portz can’t say enough about his work ethic. “He puts in the time and gives 110% every time he is on the field. Whether he’s pitching or batting, his effort is always the same.”

Brad, the son of Rich and Debbie Harrison, is humble about his achievements this year. He attributes a lot of what he was able to do this year to hard work, playing on the varsity team for all four years and being around the program his whole life. But, he gives most of the credit to his teammates.

“There are eight other players on the field” he said. “Being the pitcher, I get the win; but, the guys around me helped me out a lot this year. I have an awesome shortstop (Camden Bauer), a Center Fielder (Dillon Weiss) that is very fast and can run just about anything down and a catcher (Chase Hackstadt) that dug my pitches out of the dirt and knocked them down when he had to.”

Harrison will continue his career at the next level, playing for Division 1 Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. This was a decision that he made early on as a sophomore. “I went for a visit and loved it” he said. “I loved the campus, the coaching staff and all that they had to offer. It felt like home.”

OTHS Baseball

‘Shell-Shocked’ Panthers have season end in Sectional Finals

BY RICH HULL
O'FALLON WEEKLY SPORTS
OTHS Baseball

Head Coach Jason Portz gives some instructions to his hitters and baserunners during a timeout against Belleville West.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

“Shell-shocked” is how Panthers’ varsity Head Coach Jason Portz described Saturday’s Class 4A Sectional Championship game against Plainfield South. “We hadn’t played a bad inning all season; and, one bad inning today cost us our season” He continued.

Things looked bright for O’Fallon early on in the game. Dillon Weiss doubled and then scored on Brad Snyder’s RBI single in the first inning. The second inning saw Hayden Schaefer hit a laser over straight-away center field for a solo home run. His second in as many games.

The lead was short lived. The Cougars tied it at two each in the bottom of the second; and, went up by two, 4 – 2 in the bottom of the fourth.

Then the top of the fifth came for the Panthers. Jason Gibson doubled and Weiss singled to move him to third. Jared Dalonzo had a SAC fly to bring Gibson in to make it 4 – 3. Cougars’ pitcher, Konnor Ash then walked both Snyder and Harrison to load the bases and his day was done.

“We thought that we had them right where we wanted them” Portz said. “We forced their best pitcher out of the game and they were bringing in a guy who had just thrown over 100 pitches on a day’s rest. So, we felt really confident.”

Plainfield South’s reliever got Jordan Richardson to hit into a fielder’s choice to shut down the Panthers’ rally. That would be O’Fallon’s last at bat for the game.

Starting pitcher Max Schaefer did a great job keeping the Panthers’ in the game. He went four innings before turning the ball over to Logan Boente and Brad Snyder in the fifth inning. The one bad inning that Portz referred to earlier. The Cougars scored nine runs in the inning, ending the game by the 10-run rule.

“Baseball can be a game of inches at times” Portz said. “Sometimes the ball gets caught and sometimes it lands just in front of you and you can’t get to it.”

“I’m definitely disappointed” said senior Brad Harrison. “No one wanted our season to end this way. But, I couldn’t be prouder of the team and their preparation.”

“This was definitely an unfortunate way for our seniors to go out” Portz said. “We had great energy and good at bats…..I couldn’t be prouder of this team and the way that they played all season long.”

The season ended with the Panthers winning 33 games. The second most in the program’s history. They also entered the championship game as the #18 team in the country in the USA Today’s Super 25 Poll. That is a first for the program to be recognized at the National level.

Coach Portz described this season as “Passionate”. “The kids loved to win and play for each other. But most of all, they loved to play the game and they put their hearts into it every time they stepped on the field.”

The Panthers earned the right to play in the championship game by defeating a Belleville West team that wouldn’t go away. It took nine innings before O’Fallon won 6 – 5.

OTHS Baseball

Hayden Schaefer launches a two-run homer against the Maroons in the Sectional Semifinals (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

O’Fallon spotted the Maroons three runs in the first inning before Hayden Schaefer laced a two-run shot over the fence in center field. O’Fallon tied the game at three on an RBI double by Harrison in the third. Belleville West scored one in their half of the third to go back up by a run 4 – 3.

Snyder hit a two-run double in top of the fourth to give the Panthers’ their first lead of the game,  5 – 4. It was a lead that they would hold until the bottom of the seventh as Harrison held the Maroons to just two hits and off the bases from the second inning to the sixth.

It was the Maroons’ bottom of the lineup that tied the game and send it to extra innings. A single followed by a SAC bunt to move the runner to second followed by another single brought the tying run across the plate.

Snyder, who went 4 – 5 with two doubles and two RBI, lead off the ninth inning with a double deep to left center. He was replaced by pinch runner, Caleb Shelton. Harrison was intentionally walked…again to put runners at first and second. Jordan Richardson came to the plate and laid down a perfect bunt, scoring Shelton all the way from second, with what would be the winning run.

Harrison pitched into the eighth inning, getting the first two outs before Logan Boente came in to close the door and pick up the win.

OTHS Baseball

Panthers Baseball impress in Rawlings Classic

 

OTHS Baseball

Senior Camden Bauer pitches against the Athens Eagles.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo Becca Jones-Scales)

The varsity Panther baseball team welcomed the spring season with a successful weekend on the diamond in the 2016 Rawlings Select Classic tournament held in Cartersville, Georgia.

O’Fallon fought off the Punxsutawney Chucks and the Ralston Valley Mustangs in the first two rounds of play to make their way into the semifinal round. Looking to win their way into the championship match, the Panthers squared off with the South Dade Buccaneers from Florida.

The Buccaneers produced early offense in the top of the first inning and held onto a four run lead until outfielder Bradley Harrison cracked a line drive double into centerfield. Dillon Weiss and Josh Gibson both scored on Harrison’s two run RBI and cut the Buccaneers lead in half. In the bottom of the fourth inning Bradley Snyder evening the game up at 4-4 on a single into centerfield that scored both Jared Dalonzo and Weiss.

Tied at 4-4, the Buccaneers found offense late in the game. The South Dade High team added two runs in the top of the fifth and sixth inning. O’Fallon cut the lead down to two runs thanks to a triple into right field by Gibson that scored Weiss. Snyder followed Gibson’s triple with a sacrifice fly to bring the game to an 8-6 score in the top of the seventh inning. The Buccaneer bats warmed up again in the final inning of play, making way for a five run inning. Unable to neutralize, the Panthers fell in the semifinal match 13-6. South Dade would go on to win the Rawlings Select Classic.

Despite the defeat to South Dade in Georgia marking the first tally in the loss column for OTHS this season, head Coach Jason Portz is pleased with his team’s performance.

“It was a very successful trip for us,” said Portz. “We finished in the top four out of twenty teams and played very well. I feel like our team really came together as a group. The young kids really stepped up to the level of competition we were up against. I think it was most certainly the best performance we have had on our spring trip in the fourteen years I have coached at O’Fallon.”

Several Panthers had standout performances at the Rawlings Classic including senior Camden Bauer who threw a five inning no hitter against Athens High School in the final game of the trip. In his stellar outing, Bauer recorded one strike out, 11 first pitch strikes, and two RBIs at the plate. O’Fallon won the game with a dominant 13-0 shutout.

OTHS Baseball

Junior Joe Guithues slides home for a run against the Eagles.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

Bauer along with fellow teammates Nathan Martin, Josh Gibson, Bradley Snyder, Chase Hackstadt, Bradley Harrison, Jordan Richardson, Dillon Weiss, Jared Dalonzo, and Logan Boente were all named to the Rawlings Classic All-Tournament team.

“It was a great opportunity for us to become closer as teammates both on and off the field. I’m really excited to see what this season has in store,” said junior Dominic Smiley.

With their three wins over the weekend, the Panthers improved their overall season record to 7-1. This week OTHS will Alton on Tuesday and Collinsville on Thursday. This weekend the Panthers will compete in and host a round-robin tournament that includes several teams from up state. O’Fallon’s first action in the round-robin will take place on Friday against Naperville Central High School.

After adding a few more wins under their belt, Portz wants his team to keep looking forward and not get too comfortable.

“We can’t focus too much on the past but, instead just build upon it. If we walk around with our chest pumped high and get to high on ourselves someone in the Southwestern Conference will humble us fast. We could have won the game against South Dade but, the key is that we bounced right back in the next game. We just want our team to get better day in and day out,” said Portz.

Panthers Baseball

Scenes from the Panthers Baseball road trip to Georgia

Panthers Baseball

Seniors Dillon Weiss and Stephen Mills practice some of their football moves after the Varsity game against the Eagles. (O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Becca Jones-Scales) 

 

 

 

Panthers Baseball

Sophomore Logan Boente and Senior Bradley Snyder share some quality “blonding” time as they watch the Junior Varsity game against the Jefferson City (MO) Jays. (O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Becca Jones-Scales)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHS Baseball Team hosts annual Youth Winter Baseball Clinic

Baseball ClinicThe O’Fallon Panther Baseball team recently hosted over 120 Campers at their Annual Youth Winter Baseball Clinic.

The winter clinic is always a great opportunity for the team’s coaches and players to work with the up and coming players in the community.

The High School baseball season is fast approaching with first practices slated to start on Monday February 29.  The Panthers are coming off another successful season in 2015 finishing 30-10 and advancing to the Elite 8, losing to the eventual class 4A state champs Providence Catholic 4-3 in the IHSA Super Sectional.  O’Fallon brings back four of the better players in the St. Louis Region in seniors Bradley Harrison, Camden Bauer, Dillon Weiss and Bradley Snyder and hopes are again high for another successful season in 2016.