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Eagles finish season flying high
EHS 2014 SeniorsWeb
Eastside honored seniors Dustin Kerbow, Travis Smith, Jacob Wilder, Peyton Pallay, Hank Steele and Drew Buckhault on Senior Night against Monroe Area. - photo by Miles Steele

The Eastside baseball team (14-12, 9-7 Region 8-AAAA) finished its season with a two-game series against Monroe Area High School (4-20, 4-12 Region 8-AAAA).

Wednesday’s game at Eastside was Senior Night for the Eagles as they honored their six outgoing upperclassmen Drew Buckhault, Dustin Kerbow, Peyton Pallay, Travis Smith, Jacob Wilder and Hank Steele.

Unfortunately, the Eagles were never really in the game, appearing spent after returning in the early morning hours from an extra-inning game and 100-plus mile commute home from Stephens County the night before.

Eastside found themselves on the losing end of a 5-1 score at the end of the night before taking a 3-0 victory over the Purple Hurricanes Friday night in game two.

Game One: Monroe Area 5, Eastside 1 

Kerbow got the start on the mound for the Eagles and after giving up a leadoff double to Jacob Olson, the Purple Hurricanes sacrificed the runner into scoring position in game one.

Wesley Wommack collected Monroe Area’s first RBI on a double to the gap, taking a 1-0 lead as Olson touched home.

Kerbow settled in and recorded a pair of strikeouts to get out of the inning.

Purple Hurricane pitcher Sam Johnson had all of the Eagles hitting of their front foot as he cruised through the first two innings, facing the minimum, while not allowing a hit.

Kerbow meanwhile cruised through the second inning as well with another pair of strikeouts and a fly ball out.

Monroe Area added another run in the third inning with Olson and Wommack knocking a couple of singles.

Eastside did mount some offense in their half of the inning as seniors Pallay, Wilder and Smith all connected singles with Smith’s plating Pallay, cutting the lead to 2-1.

Kerbow continued his strong outing, recording two more strikeouts in a scoreless fourth inning.

Three fly ball outs for the Eagles put Kerbow right back on the mound for the fifth inning where he induced a fly ball out of his own. The next pitch from Kerbow was a fly ball that left the park as the hard hitting Olson recorded his third hit of the game.

A walk to the next batter ended the night for Kerbow who garnered seven strikeouts over his 4 1/3 innings of work while giving up six hits and one walk.

Connor Hewell came on in relief and got out of the inning, but not before Wommack’s third hit of the night increased the Purple Hurricane lead to 5-1.

Hewell was effective in pitching a scoreless sixth and seventh innings, giving up only a hit and striking out two. Offensively for the Eagles, Hunter Ballard recorded a lone single in the sixth while Steele and Buckhault salvaged a little consolation on their night, as both hit singles in their last at-bat at Eagle Field.

The Purple Hurricanes hung on for the four-run win, spoiling the Eagles’ Senior Night while also putting the state playoffs out of reach for the Eagles for the first time since 2008.

Game Two: Eastside 3, Monroe Area 0

Friday found the Eagles in Monroe for the Purple Hurricanes’ Senior Night, and with the playoffs out of reach, the team played for pride, a winning season and redemption for their own Senior Night loss.

Eastside jumped out to an early lead with singles from Austin Holloway and Jared Jones. A Monroe Area wild pitch and a Drew Buckhault sac-fly helped the Eagles assume a 2-0 lead in the first, capitalizing on the early base knocks.

Buckhault took the mound for the last game of his Eastside career and after giving up a pair of hits in the opening frame, he emerged unscathed as the runners were left stranded.

The next scoring opportunity for the Eagles came in the third inning with Buckhault helping himself with a single to right field before crossing the plate on the strength of a single off the bat of Wilder, giving the Eagles a 3-0 advantage.

Buckhault continued his dominance on the mound, surrendering only two additional hits throughout the remainder of his start. Meanwhile, the Eagle offense struggled with the exception of a Steele single in the fifth and then a single that Steele stretched into a double, sliding into second for the swan song at-bat of his high school career.

Buckhault’s numbers for his final outing were five hits, no walks and seven strikeouts on the complete game effort.

The Eagles finished with an overall record of 14-12.

While missing the playoffs was disappointing, it did give the seniors on the team the opportunity to win their final game wearing an Eastside Eagles uniform.

“I am proud of the way we finished the season, winning three of four games this week,” Ayres said. “Ending on a high note is great for our seniors and our underclassmen.”