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Oakville takes third place in A-B tourney


By STEPHEN GLOVER

For the Call

Throughout the 2003 season, the Oakville American Legion baseball team has suffered a case of the "hot-and-cold" syndrome, but Head Coach Ryan Hetzer believes that his squad finally is turning the corner on consistent play.

"I think we've turned the corner and our guys are gaining confidence," Hetzer told the Call. "Being a better defensive team is No. 1 on our agenda.''

Hetzer's remarks can be backed up by Oakville's third-place finish at the Anheuser-Busch Fourth of July Tournament last weekend.

Oakville opened the tournament with an impressive 16-6 win over New Baden, Ill., which was nothing more than a continuation of Oakville's solid play earlier in the week, according to Hetzer.

"The New Baden game was just a continuation of the hot hitting that we've been having lately," Hetzer said. "We didn't know that much about them and just came out and hit the ball really well."

Against New Baden, Oakville starting pitcher Chris Panopoulos threw a solid six innings, while giving up six runs on two hits. Panopoulos did walk three batters, but struck out three in the winning effort.

"I can't say enough about Chris," Hetzer said. "Chris is naturally more fitted as being a outfielder. He's really filled out need though as being a starting pitcher and is very effective in getting people out."

Oakville received another win in the tournament via a forfeit when Wentzville withdrew from the tournament earlier in the week and a replacement team couldn't be found to fill the void.

On Saturday morning, Oakville downed the Glendale Merchants of Springfield in a 4-2 win.

The game was a nail-biter until Oakville catcher Tim Seago blasted a two-run shot in the fifth inning, which provided proved to be the winning formula for Oakville.

"Tim's home run really put us over the top," Hetzer said. "It was a tight and well-played ball game."

Oakville starting pitcher Tyler Faulstich received the win as he recorded nine strikeouts in seven inning pitched.

"Tyler was really in control from start to finish," Hetzer said. "We feel pretty confident as a team when we have Tyler on the mound."

In the semifinal of the tournament, Oakville suffered a disappointing 11-0 bombing by tournament host Anheuser-Busch.

"It wasn't a great result by any means," Hetzer said. "It actually was a better game than the score would show. Ron Martin, their starting pitcher, really shut us down in that game."

Oakville starting pitcher Casey Turner took the loss as he gave up six runs in just four innings pitched.

Despite the loss, Hetzer was pleased to see that Turner was dueling Martin in the first three innings before the team fell apart in the fourth inning.

"Casey was matching Martin inning for inning until the fourth inning," Hetzer said.

In the third-place game of the tournament, Oakville handed a very talented Creve Coeur squad an 11-3 loss for third-place honors. The win was a good sign for Hetzer and his staff as it gave them the confidence that this year's Oakville squad has the ability to bounce back from a disappointing loss.

"It was nice to bounce right back and really hit the ball well," Hetzer said. "We got right back in there and stuck it to a really good Creve Coeur team."

Oakville starting pitcher John Edwards was solid on the mound as he struck-out two batters in five innings pitched while giving up just three runs.

"John threw the last inning of the Anheuser Busch game and was still fresh," Hetzer said. "He threw really well and was really the story of the game for us. He was keeping them (Creve Coeur) off balance and getting people out."

Oakville is scheduled to face Creve Coeur at 5:30 p.m. today — July 10 — in a league game that Hetzer believes is one of the more important games of the season.

"It's a big game for us," Hetzer said. "Creve Coeur is always a tough league opponent for us. We look at it as a game that we really need to win because the top four seeds in the district get a bye in the first round."

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