By STUART GROSKREUTZ
OAK PARK HEIGHTS – Alex Haas continued his stingy work on the mound as Stillwater knocked off Hastings 3-2 in Wednesday’s Suburban East Conference baseball game at Stillwater Area High School.
Haas did not allow an earned run while surrendering two walks and six hits in the complete game. The senior improved to 6-1 on the season and has not allowed more than one earned run in his last three starts – lowering his ERA to less than a run.
"He wasn’t as on, but he is really having a quiet, outstanding year," said Ponies coach Mike Parker, whose team stretched its winning streak to five.
An error combined with a pair of two-out hits scored two runs for Hastings in the third inning to tie the game at 2-all. Stillwater broke the tie in the sixth when Joe Stanton delivered an RBI double to right center. Christian Abilla started the inning with a base hit and Aaron Romportl advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt.
"That was a huge sac bunt by Romportl to get him over, especially with the score tied and giving us a chance to give us that hit we needed," Parker said.
A play like that stands out more when in the seventh Hastings was hoping to bunt the potential tying run to second, but popped it up for the first out. Haas retired the next two batters in order to close out the game.
Ponies coach Zach Krenz also threw out a base runner trying to steal second in the fifth – a play that loomed large when the batter followed with a base hit. Jordan Berglund also made a nice running catch down the right-field line for a key out in the seventh.
"We weren’t real sharp defensively, but we had some pretty clutch plays," Parker said. "It looked like it was their third game in three days, but we did enough of the little things to win."
Stanton also drove an RBI single in the first inning as the Ponies jumped in front 1-0. Austin Holmberg led off the game with a base hit and Abilla followed with a single to move Holmberg into scoring position.
Then in the second, Stillwater built a 2-0 lead after Scott Livermore singled and came around to score on a base hit by Holmberg.
"It was good to see Joe hit the ball again," Parker said. "It looked like we were going to get lots of runs in the first two innings, but then (Hastings pitcher Zach Anderson) kind of shut us down through the middle innings and we didn’t do much. It was our ability at the end of the game to get the bunt down and move the guy up."
Hastings0 0 2 0 0 0 0-260
Stillwater1 1 0 0 0 1 x-382
WP: Alex Haas (6-1) 7-ip, 6-h, 2-r, 0-er, 2-bb, 6-so
LP: Zach Anderson 6-ip, 8-h, 3-r, 3-er, 1-bb, 4-so
Leading hitters: St, Austin Holmberg 3×3, Christian Abilla 2×3, Joe Stanton 2×3 (2B, 2 RBI) and Scott Livermore 1×2.