Things started out promising for the Waterloo baseball team at home Saturday in the regional championship game against Mascoutah.
The Bulldogs scratched across an unearned run in the top of the first inning against highly touted Mascoutah pitcher Ryan Netemeyer without the benefit of a hit.
But errors doomed the ‘Dogs from there, and Netemeyer proved too challenging for the Waterloo bats as the Indians came away with a 5-1 win.
“We should’ve scored more but let (Netemeyer) off the hook in that first inning,” Waterloo head coach Mark Vogel said.
Waterloo committed four errors in the contest, probably none more costly than a fly ball to deep left in the bottom of the first off the bat of Mascoutah’s Jacob Pratt that evaded the grasp of outfielder Brett Degener, allowing two runs to score.
“It’s frustrating because we were pretty good defensively all year,” Vogel said. “Against a guy like Netemeyer, you pretty well need to be perfect, and we weren’t.”
Waterloo senior Austin Nunnery pitched well enough to win most days, but the defensive miscues coupled with Netemeyer’s dominance spelled a season-ending loss for the ‘Dogs.
Netemeyer, a Southern Illinois University Carbondale recruit, allowed just two hits — one by senior catcher Jonny Albers in the second inning and an infield single by Zach Schaab late in the game. Netemeyer finished the game with nine strikeouts.
The ‘Dogs finished the season with a 21-14-1 record, having won 10 of their last 13. The coach said he will have “nothing but fond memories” of the 13 departing seniors on his club.
“Those guys were a part of a lot of wins here,” Vogel said, citing his 400th career coaching win and a junior high state championship. “They’re good kids, first class all the way, in how they represented our school and this program.”
Bulldogs clip Eagles
Sometimes, one big inning is all you need to win in baseball — and all you will get. Such was the case Thursday for Waterloo against cross-county rival Columbia in the Class 3A Waterloo Regional semifinal at WHS.
The Bulldogs scored three runs in the top of the first inning off one of the area’s best pitchers, Columbia’s Josh Fleming. Waterloo starter Jeremy Rettig, reliever Devin Rice, and the Bulldogs defense made the lead hold up in a 3-1 win.
“If you’re going to beat a guy like Fleming, you have to get to him early,” Vogel said of the talented Eagles southpaw. “We were fortunate to do that.”
In the first, Ryan Aycock singled and later scored on a single by Schaab. An infield error on a ball hit by Tyler McAl
ister allowed Schaab to cross the plate. Christian Schmidt then smacked a double to left, scoring McAlister.
Fleming allowed just one more hit — in the second inning — and completely shut down Waterloo’s offense from there. He finished with a complete game and 10 strikeouts in defeat.
Rettig pitched five strong innings, allowing just one unearned run. He was able to work out of jams, the biggest one coming in the bottom of the third.
Jacob Hill led off with a single for the Eagles, but was caught stealing at second. Following a Kyle Gudeman groundout, Quinten Spivey and Cam Touchette singled. KJ Spisak reached on an error by the Waterloo second baseman. With the bases loaded, Rettig got Cam Shewfelt to chop it back to the mound and end the threat.
Columbia scored its only run in the sixth following an errant throw to second on a steal with a runner at third.
Rice pitched out of the sixth inning jam and then closed the door on Columbia’s season in the seventh.
The Eagles finished with a record of 19-11 and a Cahokia Conference championship.
“I told the guys that I do not want one game to define our entire season,” Columbia head coach Keith Jany said. “They battled adversity all year and when they heard we were picked to finish fourth in our conference, they proved many people wrong.”
Jany said his team had trouble scoring runs all season, but its pitching and defense gave them a chance to win most games.
“Giving up three runs in the first inning was just too big of a hill for our offense to climb (against Waterloo),” Jany said.