After four losses in five games last week, the Bulldogs were in need of a confidence booster.
Their, five-game win streak since then seems to have gotten the Waterloo High School baseball team back on track.
Over the weekend, WHS (16-6) took the Centralia Tournament crown, defeating Centralia, 2-0, Wesclin, 7-5, and South Central, 8-1, in the round-robin tourney.
“We had a really good pitching performance by Jeremy Rettig,” WHS baseball coach Mark Vogel said of his junior right-hander, who threw 104 pitches in nine innings against Centralia to start off the tourney. “He was the key to that game.”
Waterloo topped it all off on Monday in a conference victory over Civic Memorial at home, 7-6.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the ‘Dogs. WHS was down, 5-0, after the fourth against the Eagles.
“We didn’t play well defensively,” Vogel said of his team starting off.
But with the help of a Ryan Aycock double after a Tyler Hebel walk, the Bulldogs got their bats going in the top of the fifth inning. Singles by Nathan Goodsell and Ethan Ruff, followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Alex Wittenauer, led to a five-run inning for WHS.
The following inning, Goodsell tied up the ball game, 6-6, on a two-out hit. He led WHS at the plate against the Eagles, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
“(Goodsell) is kind of a streaky hitter. We are trying to get him to hit more consistent,” Vogel said. “But I think he is in a good place now.”
Senior Logan Mueth won the game in the seventh inning on another two-out hit. Vogel says it is key for a big ball club to be able to get those two-out hits, especially on a consistent basis.
Wittenauer started on the mound for the Bulldogs Monday, throwing five innings with nine hits and six strike outs. Junior Austin Campbell finished the game on six straight outs.
Vogel says if his team can put all three things together — offense, defense and pitching — at once, consistently, they will be a force to reckon with coming into the last month of the season.
One player who has helped lead the ‘Dogs on offense consistently is Ruff. The senior had eight hits at Centralia over the weekend.
“A lot of our offense gets started with him,” Vogel said, adding that he gets a lot of infield hits and bunts followed by his ability to steal bases that gives the team an offensive push.
“We are getting different guys at different times stepping it up to help us win,” Vogel explained, adding that players like Ruff and the entire team as a supporting cast ready to step up at any time will help as Waterloo has a “tested” schedule coming up to end the season.
WHS has four Southwestern Conference schools left to face in Collinsville who they will play on the road Friday, Granite City and Belleville East and West.
Wednesday, Waterloo takes on Mascoutah (14-9, 5-2) on the Indians’ turf. The Bulldogs are currently in third place in the Mississippi Valley Conference standings with a record of 3-3. Highland (6-1) sits at No. 1, while Triad and Mascoutah are tied for second at 5-2 in the MVC.
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