Eastside used its deep lineup to put runs on the board against the inexperienced but talented Tigers of Alcovy, defeating them 12-3.
The cold weather these past couple weeks has forced both Alcovy and Eastside into practicing less, but the teams played a solid game despite the weather on Friday night.
“Our guys have been working their tails off in the cages hitting and getting ready for this. It looked like we got better as the game went on, which is pretty obvious that if we could play some I think we got a pretty good team,” Bruce Evans, Eagles’ head coach, said. “ It’s hard to play Saturday and then come back and play next Friday and then somewhere in between that we got four days where we can’t even practice because it’s too cold or snow or rain or school’s out or whatever. I think we hit good, but I think we’re gonna hit a lot better if we can put three or four games together in a week so we can see some pitching all week.”
Nathan Purcell started on the mound for the Tigers and he ended the first inning quickly going three up and three down. Brantley Proffit took the mound for Eastside and he followed up Purcell’s stellar start to the game with an outstanding start of his own. Proffitt retired the side in order and the game remained scoreless.
With two outs and two runners in scoring position, sophomore Josh Sims opened up the game with a blast down the middle for a double that scored Nick Womack and Austin Kerbow to put the Eagles up 2-0.
However, Alcovy replicated the Eagles success as Dalton Smith and Dawson White both got an RBI in the bottom half of the second inning to tie the game at two.
Again, the Eagles responded. Hunter Ballard laid down a nice bunt and beat out a throw at first for the first hit of the third inning. Ballard proceeded to steal second and soon after Austin Holloway lined a shot down the middle to score Ballard. Holloway would steal home on a passed ball before the inning ended to lift the Eagles to a 4-2 lead.
The Tigers would get just three hits until the sixth inning, totaling eight for the game.
“We didn’t seem to have a plan up there tonight and we’ve preached about that through last week,” Ryan Denison, Alcovy head coach, said. “It’s kind of tough not being able to be out on the field for the last week. We’ve preached to em and from now on basically all year you’ve got to have a plan when you go up to the plate.”
The Eagles finished with 15 hits and scored four runs in the sixth inning with two outs on the board.
“We work real hard on not swinging at anything outside the strike zone. We set a zone and we swing at it there,” Evans said, speaking on his team’s poise at the plate. “We don’t swing at balls in the cages at our field and that’s something we stress. [If] they’re gonna give us something to hit, we’re gonna hit it, but we’re not going to go out of the zone to help anybody.”
Based off of their performance against Alcovy, the Eagles have a pretty deep lineup as they had six players with two hits each. Holloway led all batters with three hits.
“I probably got three guys on the bench that deserve to hit too and I can’t get ‘em in there because the guys in there are doing there job. That’s the thing,” Evans said. “I told them when I got here, ‘We’re gonna hit the ball.’ That’s something we’re gonna do as a team and I got all the confidence in the world that we got enough to hit throughout the year. And I got some guys that can come off the bench at anytime and give us a hit. I’m really excited about that.”
The Eagles have a few guys that are hurt, Sims and Chase Raines can’t pitch with tendinitis in their shoulders and standout Gray Ritchie hasn’t been throwing any as he recovers from an impingement in his shoulder. Evans says Ritchie could be cleared to start throwing sometime next week.
Evans is in his first year as the Eagles’ head coach, and he’s getting used to the players as they adjust to his coaching style.
“I’m new here. These kids are all new to me and I’m new to them. I’m figuring out where they can play, what they can handle, what they’re best at, so that’s why we need some games so we can get some of those things nailed down. [Connor Hewell] looked good coming out the ‘pen, so I was kind of excited about that,” Evans said.
Alcovy, on the other hand, has problems of its own.
“We hit the ball well and we played well except for early on. We gave up four errors and we had a mental error on the base paths and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the game,” Denison said. “We still, even though we’ve got juniors, we still have a relatively young team as far as experience and it showed a lot tonight I thought. we just have to learn from our lessons and keep moving.”
Denison believes his team’s immaturity showed in the loss, but that they have the talent to compete they just have to bring a better mental approach.
“If we can get our maturity level up and being able to be coached, I think we’ll be fine,” Denison said. “Our talent level is there. We’ve got pitching. We’ve got one of our kids, Hunter Phillips, is probably going to be out about three weeks [with a] broken wrist. He broke it at Evans. One of our better pitchers.”
“We don’t have any overpowering pitching so we’re just gonna have to win with defense and bats,” Denison added.
Eastside will host Alcovy on Monday at 5:30 p.m.