Shane Benes

Shane Benes has bulked up a bit, and that added strength is evident at the plate.

“I definitely have gotten stronger since last year,” the Westminster junior admitted. “And I’m hitting the ball a lot farther.”

Benes tattooed a first-inning delivery from Lutheran South starter Brandon Downey on Wednesday afternoon at South, sending the ball soaring over the leftfield fence for a two-run homer. His blast got the ball rolling for the Wildcats, and they went on to rout the Lancers 8-1 for the second win over their Metro League rivals in three days.

It was the sixth homer of the season for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound shortstop, which tied him with Drew Curtis of Edwardsville and Calvin Munson of Francis Howell for the most in the metro area.

“First inning, guy on second base, 0-0, I’m just trying to see a ball I can drive deep,” Benes said. “I just wanted to hit it hard.”

He did a lot of that during a 3-for-4 afternoon — Benes laced a pair of RBI-singles later in the game — and finished with four RBI. The No. 1 team in the small-schools rankings, Westminster improved to 22-3 overall and 9-0 in the conference.