Alton High School
Boys Varsity Baseball
4A BASEBALL REGIONAL: Alton’s Stilts fires one-hitter against East in semis
Senior fires complete-gameone-hitter in regional semis
Louie Korac For The Telegraph
Greg Shashack | The Telegraph
Alton pitcher Adam Stilts fired a complete-game, one-hit shutout against Belleville East in the Redbirds’ 3-0 semifinal victory Thursday in the Alton Class 3A Regional Tournament.
GODFREY — A pregame bullpen session was all Alton pitcher Adam Stilts needed to know he’d be locked in.
“When I was warming up in the bullpen, I knew that I was going to be good today,” Stilts said.
And the senior right-hander was nearly perfect.
Stilts threw a complete-game one-hit shutout, doing so on 88 pitches, and Alton supplied Stilts with the one run he needed in the second inning before tacking on two more in the sixth of a 3-0 win against Belleville East on Thursday in the Alton Class 4A Regional at Alton High School.
Stilts, who somehow came in with a sub-.500 record (3-4) despite a sparkling 0.69 earned-run average, didn’t allow a Belleville East batter to reach third base. The Lancers, who closed their season at 18-18, had four base runners for the game, including a single, two hit batsmen and a walk.
Stilts, who struck out nine, recently had trouble locating a slider that’s an important pitch to his weaponry. He worked two innings of a 5-1 loss at Freeburg on Monday and allowed two hits, five runs (none earned).
“Recently I had trouble with my slider,” Stilts said. “Coming into the game, I had no idea how it was going to go and in the bullpen, I kind of found it, but then when I was on the mound and I got a hitter in there, it was back to normal.”
And that slider set up what was a near-perfect afternoon other than a leadoff single by Gage Cruz for the Lancers.
“I just knew that he was ready to compete for this,” Alton coach Scott Harper said of Stilts. “He didn’t have it. He was talking about it on Monday. We gave him a short start just to kind of refresh and get ready to go so he wasn’t waiting too long between starts. They hit a few balls and we didn’t play very good defense, so yeah, that’s one of the comments he said, he didn’t have his slider. He worked a little bit on the side beforehand this week and got himself ready to go today.”
It was supposed to be a matchup of aces, which included Lancers starter Evan Gray, who was equally as impressive in his four innings of work, but Gray had to leave the game in the bottom of the fourth inning after being hit on the left wrist/forearm, his non-pitching arm.
Gray allowed one unearned run on one hit himself, with two walks and five strikeouts before giving way to Gabe Tindall.
“He got hit on the wrist/forearm and it kind of swelled up and he couldn’t go back out there,” Lancers coach Ryan Wiggs said. “Pitched great. Four innings, pitched fine, really good. He’s been our best guy all year. Gabe’s been one of our top guys all year too and he did fine too. We played pretty good defense, but when you get one hit, you don’t win a lot of games.
“(Stilts) has got a sub-one ERA. He’s a top of the conference type of guy. We were not surprised to see him or that he pitched well. We just had to battle or grind out more at-bats. Some at-bats, he was kind of pitching backwards, throwing sliders in fastball counts and fastballs in off-speed counts. He’s got a good slider and he keeps the ball down in the zone. Not a whole lot of free base runners and they play good defense too. Got to cut down on the strikeouts and put the ball in play more.”
Stilts got all the run support he needed after he led off with a walk in the second, and then pinch-runner Nathan Lemons stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a two-out wild pitch.
East couldn’t mound any kind of threat offensively.
“Everything was working,” Stilts said. “Velocity was definitely there. My secondary pitches were there and my changeup was most definitely there.
“I definitely knew that it was going to be a battle coming into the game today and knew I had to at least keep one or two of them from scoring. … The first run was huge. It was big.”
Alton added insurance in the sixth when Robbie Taul reached on an infield single and scored on Riley Phillips’ RBI double to left-center. Phillips moved to third on the errant throw back into the infield and scored on Jackson Brooks’ sac fly to center for what amounted to an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
“It was nice to get some insurance,” Harper said. “I knew right from the get-go it was going to be a good pitcher’s battle. I hate that Evan got hit on the forearm like that where he couldn’t continue because he had a great outing against us at their place when we lost 2-1. I told them runs were going to be hard to come by and we were able to scratch that one out in the (second).”
Alton (14-18) will now host top-seeded Edwardsville (31-5) at 10 a.m. on Saturday with a chance to redeem themselves from a disappointing regular season. The Tigers have beaten Alton twice this year, 5-2 in Alton on April 22 and 6-5 at home on April 26.
”Definitely not the year we had in mind, but you try and get hot during the playoffs,” Stilts said. “We’re going to ride this win until Saturday.”