Coming into Monday's Region 4-AAA matchup Spalding County had the prestige, the talent and the No. 10 ranking in Class AAA. But Eastside had Tyler Bailey.
Bailey kept the Jaguars' batters guessing all night, pitching a complete game in the Eagles' 7-4 victory.
Spalding, which finished second in the state a year ago, and defeated Eastside 13-10 on March 14, took an early 2-0lead in the bottom of the second courtesy of a pair of base hits combined with a couple of Eastside miscues.
The Eagles (16-4, 10-2) answered back in the top of the third when Keith Buckhault led a two out rally by reaching on a single, followed by a scorching double off the bat of senior Jake Wright to score Buckhault.
Musashi Briem also doubled scoring Wright. Briem would score on a single by Jerold Sumner as the Eagles took the lead 3-2. The Eagles would add another two runs in the fourth via a leadoff single by junior Daniel Garrett and a walk to Cody Walker.
With Hank Steele replacing Garrett on the base paths, both Steele and Walker would advance on a balk before a Joey Mitchell sacrifice fly would score Steele and a Buckhault double would plate Walker.
Bailey continued to work his magic from the mound as he threw scoreless third and fourth innings working through the heart of the Jaguar lineup.
Briem added another run to the board for the Eagles in the fifth with a towering home run.
With the score at 6-2 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Jaguars (13-5, 11-1) began to threaten after Bailey gave up a leadoff single followed shortly by a homerun from Casey Moody - a Georgia signee.
Now leading 6-4 heading into the sixth, Eastside had a three-up-and-three-down inning that ended with Wright hitting into a double play. Bailey returned to the mound for what would be another three-up-and-three down inning for Spalding as well.
The Eagles added an insurance run in their half of the seventh when Briem drew a controversial walk and a Jerold Sumner single was misplayed in right field allowing Briem to score.
Bailey again took the mound for the bottom of the seventh inning as his pitch count approached triple digits and the 2-3-4 hitters awaited him.
The mood was very tense for both dugouts as Bailey hit the first batter and Moody came to the plate. Bailey cut down Moody's home run swing with a barrage of curveballs as the Jaguars' slugger struck out.
The next Spalding player would reach base on a fielder's choice as the runner from first advanced on an error.
With two men on and only one out, the tying run came to the plate in the form of Jaguar shortstop Matt Hayes who had hit two homeruns against the Eagles in their previous matchup.
Bailey persevered as Hayes went down on strikes. With the Eastside crowd on their feet and Spalding down to their final out, Bailey ran the count full before striking out the last hope for the Jaguars.
Sumner led Eastside going 4 for 4 on the night while Buckhault went 3 for 4 and Briem went 2 for 3 as the Eagles outhit the Jaguars 13-5. Tyler Bailey's final numbers on the night had him giving up only the five hits with two walks, two hit batters and seven strikeouts.
"I am as proud of this team as any team that I have coached," Eastside coach Brad Weir said. "They have taken everything we have taught them and it all came back to them tonight."
Weir also gave Bailey deserved credit.
"Tyler Bailey was great tonight, and he pitched with a huge amount of heart," Weir said.
The Eagles are solidly in second place in Region 4-AAA and will play two of their last four region games this week with a home game against Henry County on Wednesday and an away game at Locust Grove on Friday.