WEST FRANKFORT — Senior Matt Wallace drove in four runs Saturday to lead the Carterville Lions past West Frankfort in high school baseball.
With the win, the Lions improve to 3-1 overall, while the Redbirds fall to 4-1.
Wallace, the team's second baseman, delivered an RBI sacrifice fly in the third inning and followed up with a run-scoring single in the fifth and two-run base hit in the sixth.
"I feel like I'm seeing pitches better right now," Wallace said. "I'm letting the ball get deeper into the strike zone. That has allowed me to hit line drives to the right side of the field. I've also been looking to hit more first-pitch fastballs."
Wallace added that it is important for him to drive in a runner from third, especially when there is less than two outs.
"It's my job to get the ball deep enough into the outfield to make sure the runner can easily tag up and score."
The Lions drew first blood in the top of the first inning off FCHS senior starter David Beasley.
Sophomore third baseman Peyton Bittle bunted for a single. He stole second, advanced to third on an error by the West Frankfort catcher, Paxton Griffith, and scored on a wild pitch.
The Redbirds bounced back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first off Lions starting pitcher James Cravens.
Beasley walked and came around to score on a single by Griffith. Griffith eventually scored on a wild pitch for a 2-1 lead.
Carterville tied the game at 2-2 in the third. Ben Haake was hit by a pitch. He advanced on an infield single off the bat of Caden Hawkins. One out later, Wallace drove Haake home with a sac fly.
The Lions regained the lead at 3-2 in the fourth when senior Jarrett Glenn tripled to right field and scored on a sac fly off the bat of Braden Ingle.
Again, West Frankfort responded, tying the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth. Riley Willis reached on an error, advanced on a single by Lucas Whittington and scored on an infield single by Beasley.
The visitors from west Williamson County retook the lead with a single tally in the fifth off Beasley, who was tagged with the loss after allowing the leadoff man to reach, was relieved in favor of Griffith.
Hawkins, who was hit by a pitch, stole a base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by Wallace.
Carterville blew the game open in the sixth inning with four runs to make the score 8-3.
Zachary Banovz singled with one out off reliever Anthony Joyner. Haake walked. Hawkins ripped an RBI single to left. Bittle singled and Wallace followed with a two-run single.
The Lions added an insurance run in the seventh when Hawkins singled home Banovz, who had walked and stolen a base.
Glenn, who relieved Cravens in the fourth inning, was credited with the win. He kept the Redbirds shut out for three innings before faltering in the bottom of the seventh, allowing the first four batters of the inning to reach base.
Raj Jenkins was struck by a pitch to the helmet and left the game for precautionary reasons. Griffith singled. Heath Neibch connected for an RBI single and Austin Tate blooped an RBI single to right. That prompted Lions head coach Bobby Jackson to bring in his shortstop, Anderson, to pitch.
The senior was lights out. After walking the first man he faced, Anderson proceeded to strike out the side, all three Redbirds looking at third-strike curve balls.
"Bryce had his breaking ball working for him today," Jackson said. "We're going to use him a lot in that closer's role, where he may pitch one if not two innings."
Jackson said he was glad to see his team win a hard-fought game.
"West Frankfort's a nice ballclub. They played us hard. It's great to get out of here with a road win."
Jackson added that the Lions won all three of their matches this week against teams from the Ohio Division of the River-to-River Conference.
"Massac County, Murphysboro and now West Frankfort, who was 4-0 going into today. It was a good week for us."
Redbirds head coach Michael Warren praised his opponent.
"We could see in their pregame routine how crisp and clean they are with the baseball. We knew they were a high-quality team and that we would have to bring our 'A' game to have a chance. We put up a good fight, but they got the better of us today."
Warren said that it helps his team improve to face good competition.
"I really liked the way we fought back in that last inning," he said. "We've had a good start to our season. The kids are going to get better and better."
The Redbirds host Harrisburg Monday, while the Lions play host to Du Quoin. Both are league games.