Things seemed to be coming full circle for the Waterloo baseball program Wednesday. WHS held a ceremony before its game against Jerseyville, unveiling a plaque dedicated to the 2011 state baseball team. Many of the team’s former players from that season, were in attendance with three current players lining up for the photo with the 2011 team as well.
WHS was looking back on a great season, with the current team ready to come to the plate in hopes for another dream post-season. All of this on senior night, too.
But the game against Jerseyville was a roller coaster ride. WHS (23-9) started the game off with a run scored on a Zach Schaab sacrifice fly, putting themselves up 1-0 against the Panthers through the third inning. That is when Jerseyville brought Waterloo down to earth, scoring three runs in the top of the fourth inning off starting pitcher Austin Nunnery.
“We really didn’t pitch well,” ‘Dogs baseball coach Mark Vogel said. “That’s been our strength all season but that day we just didn’t have our stuff.”
The Bulldogs came out in the bottom half of the inning, with their bats awake. Jeremy Rettig hit a ground rule double that hopped over the fence in left center, which was followed by a home run blast over the left field wall by Tyler Hebel and tied it up 3-3.Waterloo’s Alex Wittenauer comes up with a snagging catch in an attempt to tag Jerseyville runner Jacob Varble out as he successfully steals second base.
Two WHS pitchers later and four JHS runs later, Waterloo rallied for a final inning comeback. Jerseyville loaded the bases, walking three Waterloo batters in a row. Rettig stepped up, once again, with a double RBI single with bases loaded. He put the game within two at 7-5, where it would stay for the remainder of the contest.
But the Bulldogs bounced back over the weekend, completing their tour of Belleville. Earlier in the season WHS defeated Althoff and by Saturday, the Bulldogs had beaten all three Belleville teams in 2013.
Friday Waterloo defeated Belleville East, 3-1, with Vogel crediting Taylor Brumfield’s 12-strikeout performance for the win.
“Pitching is, again, the key,” Vogel said. Tyler Hebel had the start on Saturday against Belleville West. This time it was a bit closer for the Bulldogs, winning by one run, 4-3, crediting reliever Devin Rice with the save. Rice also relieved the game before and has been a large part of Waterloo’s 23 wins this season, Vogel says.
“He’s got the perfect mentality to be a closer,” Vogel said, referring to the junior’s ability to throw strikes down the pipe and his nonchalant attitude that keeps him in games.
Rice currently leads the metro area in saves with seven.
The Bulldogs are counting on keeping Rice hot and ready in the post-season. WHS faced Triad Tuesday in a non-conference pick-up game to keep both teams fresh coming into regional play. Results were not available by press time but can be found at RepublicTimes.net/Sports.
Waterloo faces Freeburg thursday, a team they beat earlier in the season, in the Class 3A Columbia Regional at 4:30 p.m.
“Freeburg is more than capable of beating us,” Vogel said, referring to the classic rivalry among Freeburg, Columbia and Mascoutah dating back to the 1960’s and 70’s that is being played out this week at the Columbia Regional. “One play, one call, makes a difference.”
Vogel says the Bulldogs will be throwing Nunnery in the contest to kick-off the loaded regional play.
“Now more than ever, you really have to focus on one game at a time.”