COVINGTON - On Wednesday it was a gorgeous day for baseball at Eagle Field.
However, once the sun had faded, Eastside High (5-15 overall, 5-13 Region 8-AAAA) had suffered yet another heartbreaker, this time to region foe Habersham Central, 7-5.
"I felt that we played the best game we've played all year from start to finish," said Eastside coach Michael Poor. "We played a team that's contending for a spot in the playoffs."
Eastside's defense took over in the first inning, led by second baseman Keaton Anglin, who made spectacular plays to retire the Raiders (11-10, 10-9) in order.
"I felt I played pretty good today,"said Anglin. "I wish we could have won, but coach told us to play our hearts out and that's what we did."
The Eagles came out swinging in the bottom half of the inning. Jared Trust led off with a single. Jake Casteel hit into a fielder's choice to get on then stole second base before Git Aiken doubled to left field, plating the first run.
Eastside added two runs in the second inning when Habersham starting pitcher Craig Tanner gave up two walks. The free passes set up a two-run double to left field by Casteel, giving the Eagles a 3-0 lead after two innings.
And the defense rose once again to halt a threat by the Raiders in the top of the third. The fine play carried over to the offense, as Eastside scored another run in the bottom half of the third.
Cameron Davenport, who was the starting pitcher, singled up the middle then stole second. Nate Harvill walked before Anglin hit a single to load the bases with two outs. Davenport crossed the plate when Tanner balked, and Eastside had a 4-0 lead entering the fourth.
But the Raiders were patient, knowing full well they could get back in the game. That opportunity came in the top of the fourth when Davenport got in a bit of a jam.
After walking the first two batters, Colton Webber singled to load the bases with no outs. Mitch Brewer smacked a two-run double to deep center field before Tanner singled to right, making it 4-3.
Another run scored on an error by Davenport tied the game at four entering the fifth.
"We really stepped up after starting out so slow," said Habersham Central coach Justin Clutter. "I'm proud of our guys; I thought it was a pretty gutsy performance."
Though neither team managed a hit in the fifth and sixth innings, Habersham broke the tie in the seventh by scoring three runs.
Ismael Garza led off with a single to right, advancing to second after a wild pitch. The next two batters walked before Kyle Barrett hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Garza to give the Raiders the lead.
Caleb Vermilya reached base after a fielder's choice, which plated another run before Brewer hit an RBI single to left, making it 7-4.
"We got here late and it took a little time for me to loosen up," Tanner said, "but when I did I was on. It felt good to get this win."
Eastside threatened to comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Casteel led off with a double to right before the Eagles loaded the bases. Daniel Digby hit an RBI single to close the gap; however, that was all the offense Eastside could muster.
"We put ourselves in a position to win," Poor said, "but we just came up short. I'm proud of the way we played today."
Eastside hosts Rockdale County at 5:30 p.m. today.