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Posted: April 25, 2017 9:58 a.m.

Eastside baseball coach Bruce Evans wants 'maturity' from team ahead of playoffs

Gabriel Stovall | The Covington News/

The Eastide Eagles are young, but looking forward to a deep playoff run, starting Friday against Spalding.

Last Thursday evening the Eastside baseball team finished the regular season in style after traveling to Salem High and defeating the Seminoles in a doubleheader, 7-0 and 15-0.  

Riley Ralston got the nod for the Eagles in game one and returned to the mound after two weeks off. Ralston looked dominant and threw five shutout innings for coach Bruce Evans, allowing no hits, with seven strikeouts. Ralston threw 11 first pitch strikes to the sixteen batters he faced, and only needed 61 pitches — with 39 of those as strikes — over his five innings of work to get the job done, as the Eastside bats were popping throughout both games. 

Leading the charge for the Eagles at the plate was sophomore John Robert McGowan. He went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate. McGowan and Austin Holloway had three quality at-bats each. Following McGowan’s lead, juniors Cole Green and Ralston pitched in with hits of their own. Erik Shirley and Caleb Sauls led the Eagles with two RBI’s a piece.

Shirley entered the game in the sixth inning as a relief pitcher — role he has shined in throughout the season. Shirley threw two solid innings, only giving up one hit — the Seminoles’ lone hit for the game. Shirley had four strikeouts and threw just 25 pitches. 

If game one centered on the Eagles’ pitching, game two was all about their offense. 

The offensive slugfest show was led by Josh Sims, Cole Green and, once again, John Robert McGowan. Sims went 3-for-4, Green went 2-for-4 and McGowan went 2-for-3 at the plate. The loudest heard shot came from the bat of Cody Moody. Moody hit a two-run homer to the deepest part of the park, over the left, centerfield fence. Caleb Sauls led the Eagles with three quality at bats.

Seniors Sims and Michael Hipps piloted the action from the mound in game two. Hipps threw three efficient innings that only required a minimal 39 pitches, of which, 28 of those were strikes. Hipps recorded five strikeouts and only gave up one hit to the 11 batters he faced. 

Sims came in as a reliever and delivered. He threw 31 pitches over two innings of work, giving up no hits and had three strikeouts.

The Eagles finished the regular season with a 19-7 overall record and a 12-6 mark in Region 4-AAAA which is good enough for a third place region finish behind Woodward Academy and Luella.  Eastside will travel to Spalding (15-8, 9-6 in Region 2-AAAA) Friday to start a best-of-three series with the Jaguars in the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament. 

And Evans said he’s looking forward to using this coming week of practice to really to get his young bunch playoff ready. 

“I’d like to have seen us a have a little bit more maturity at this point,” Evans said. “But we’ve got a good, solid week of practice up before we have to play Spalding. And what I do see is our kids are listening and our coaches are working hard. And we’re going to do our best to make these guys grow up in a week. Worst thing you can do during playoff time is go into it not ready. We don’t wanna go in there and not be ready to win.”

Eastside advanced to the Final Four last year, losing to Buford in the semifinal round. 

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