Sauget - It was a pitchers duel all night at the annual Grizzly Stadium game between Gibault and Columbia, with Gibault eventually pulling out the win 1-0 in seven.
Columbia starter Noah Riley had five strong innings, giving up 1 run. Gibault starter Mark Branz went six and two-thirds innings, giving up no runs on five hits, with two walks and 9 strikeouts.
Both teams had opportunities to score, but timely pitching on both sides, and some great defensive play by Columbia second basemen Josh Marion helped keep the game tied until the fifth.
When asked about the emotions of a tight game like this, Gibault Head Coach Andy Skaer said, "The flow of the game didn't really dictate a whole lot of coaching on my part. We were doing a good job of working counts, getting guys on base, and we just had a sense that at some point we were going to break through and push some runs across."
Gibault, who is off to a 9-1 start after dropping a loss to Alton Marquette, improved to 10-1. "What has helped us is that we haven't played the toughest part of our schedule yet. We've been hitting the ball well, taking great at bats. Offense has really been a big part", said Coach Skaer.
"Marquette was a really good team. They had their best pitcher on the mound, which is what we like to see. We just gave some runs away, couldn't find the strike zone, but we learned how to have good approaches against guys who aren't the hardest throwing pitchers."
Speaking before the game, Coach Skaer pointed to Ian Metcalf as someone who has been very helpful driving the offense for the Hawks this year. "Ian Metcalf has done a really great job this year for us. He's a guy who is a senior now, last year as a junior didn't get a whole lot of opportunities to play, didn't see a whole lot of success. He's one guy we didn't know we were going to have."
This once again became the case for Gibault, with Ian Metcalf producing the lone RBI in the game, driving in the ultimate winning run during the fifth inning, scoring Austin Sweeney.
"Leadoff walk helped put a guy in scoring position for him. Two out base hits we have been doing a lot of that this year and Ian has been a guy who is good in pressure situations for us this year. Right guy, right spot," said Coach Skaer.
"I felt comfortable against Noah Riley all night, he's a great pitcher. Hit a couple balls I thought I caught pretty well to the shortstop, saw him move over a little for my third at-bat, and just tried to take advantage of that opening," said Metcalf.
Gibault starting pitcher Mark Branz also knocked two hits of his own.
Coach Skaer said of Branz after the game,"Mark Branz was pretty spectacular on the mound. Pitch count got him at the end. You don't see many high school games end 1-0, to shutout a really good hitting team like Columbia is a testament to him."
"The slider was working well early in counts tonight. I could throw that early, and use my fastball as an out pitch tonight," said Branz.
The Hawks continue weekend action against Cahokia at 11 A.M. and Waterloo at 3 P.M. on Saturday. The Eagles are slated to take on Red Bud Monday at 4:30 in Red Bud.