The Eastside baseball team found out what a difference a week could make, rebounding from an early season loss to rival Newton with a 7-6 rematch victory over the Rams in the home opener Tuesday night.
The win gave the Eagles their first win of the season, while the Rams fell to 2-3 overall.
The Eagles used six pitchers on the mound, but worked their way through the Newton line- up late in the contest to hold on to the one-run win.
“We made a point of working much of our pitching staff tonight,” Eastside coach Jon Ayres said. “We want to have everyone ready and seasoned for when region play begins.”
Senior Drew Buckhault got the start for the Eagles, and after yielding a leadoff single to M.J. Boykin, settled in to pitch a scoreless first inning. Boykin was erased during the frame as he was cut down by Hunter Ballard attempting to steal second.
The Eagles had redemption on their minds and made a statement early. They touched-up Newton starter Kenny Glover from the very start of the game, with a Hunter Ballard single and an Austin Holloway double. Glover walked Buckhault to load the bases for senior Hank Steele, and Steele didn’t disappoint, ripping a 3-RBI double to the gap to clear the bases.
Austin Kerbow joined the hit parade with a single through the left side, and Connor Hewell was called up by the Eagles and collected an RBI by plating Steele. Kerbow scored on a passed ball before the inning came to a close, and Eastside jumped out to an early 5-0 lead.
The Rams failed to generate any offense through the second, third and fourth innings due to another strong inning on the mound by Buckhault followed by two innings of curve balls from Chase Raines that baffled the Newton hitters. Raines registered four strikeouts in just two innings of work.
The Eagles added another run in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of a walked batter and an error on a sac-bunt play.
Newton mounted a comeback in the fifth inning by scoring four runs off Holloway, as they mixed in singles from Boykin, Daniel Croom and Shawn Guckenberger along with a walk and a double from Allen Bowen. Travis Smith relieved Holloway on the mound and induced a pop-fly out to get the Eagles out of the inning.
Undeterred by the outing, Holloway was up first in the Eagles half of the fifth and rocked Glover for another single, followed by a Buckhault base knock. This time, Kerbow collected the RBI as he plated Holloway. The inning came to an end with Eastside leading 7-4.
The Eagles sent yet another pitcher to the mound for the sixth inning as Josh Sims took the hill. The Rams still had plenty of fight left and started the inning strong with a double down the line from Mason Callaway, followed by another double from Boykin (3-for-4 on the night).
With the score at 7-5 and a man on base, the game was briefly halted as the Eastside fans’ enthusiasm was deemed to be a little loud for the visitors. A base-knock by Bowen brought in another run as Newton narrowed the gap to 7-6 by the close of the inning.
Eastside was unable to produce any offense in the bottom of the sixth, so Ayres brought in his sixth pitcher of the evening, with Steele tagged as the closer for the night.
Both the Newton and Eastside faithful hung onto every pitch as Steele got Glover to ground out to the second baseman for the initial out of the inning. Joshua Prince gave the Rams hope with a base hit through the left side to make it a three-hit night for the first baseman, but Steele took care of business by striking out the next two batters to secure the 7-6 victory for the Eagles.
Raines was credited with the win and Steele notched the save while Glover suffered the loss.
Newton will return to action on today at home against Columbia, while Eastside travels to Mountain View for a double-header on Saturday.