The Eastside Eagles baseball team entered the first round of the state playoffs Friday night against the Harlem Bulldogs with a sense of quiet confidence, but they left Eagle Field disappointed after being swept 12-2 and 3-1 and getting knocked out of the playoffs.
The Eagles would be undone in the first game of the best of three series by their own mistakes, as errors, hit batsmen and walks plagued them.
The game started slowly for both teams as neither could muster a first inning run despite putting a couple of men on base. Harlem started the second inning with a couple of hits and was able to plate a run on an Eastside throwing error. The Eagles once again stranded a runner, as they were unable to score senior David VanLeuven after his double.
The Bulldogs made some adjustments in the third inning. After a single and a fly out, the next two Harlem batters were patient and drew walks to load the bases.
Starting pitcher Jake Wright struck out the next batter, but his attempt to get out of the jam was foiled after one baserunner crossed the plate on a passed ball, and two more men scored on back-to-back Eastside fielding errors.
After issuing yet another walk, Wright's evening on the mound was finished and he was relieved by junior Ty Raynor.
With the bases still loaded, Raynor plunked the first batter and walked the second batter as two more runs scored.
Raynor would get a strikeout for the third out, but the score had ballooned to 6-0.
Eastside wasn't able to generate any productive offense in their half of the third and fourth innings, with singles coming from Matt Hitchcock and Musashi Briem.
Raynor settled in and pitched two strong three-up, three-down innings to keep the score at 6-0 going into the bottom of the fifth.
The Eagles finally scored their first run by stringing together consecutive singles from Hitchcock, Keith Buckhault and Jake Wright, while Briem would get the RBI by reaching on a fielder's choice.
Harlem, however, was not done scoring. After Daniel Garrett assumed the pitching duties for Eastside to begin the sixth inning, he got touched up for four runs after a leadoff double, homerun, followed by three hits sandwiching a walk.
Once again, the Eagles were unable to put anything together in the sixth other than a single from Cody Walker. The Bulldogs added a couple of insurance runs in the top of the seventh via another hit batsman and a home run to run the score up to 12-1. Down to their last three outs, the Eagles were only able to put one more run on the board as Musashi Briem hit his sixth home run of the year.
After a short break, the Eagles became the visiting team, and got off to a promising start when Matt Hitchcock reached on an error, Jake Wright singled and Musashi Briem drew a walk.
However, the Eagles missed a key opportunity and ended up stranding all three men on base.
Senior Tyler Bailey started game two for the Eagles and struggled in the first as Harlem put a couple of base runners on with a leadoff single followed by a batter reaching on an Eagle miscue. After a fly ball out, Harlem notched their first run on an RBI single.
Both pitchers settled in and hit their marks leading to a scoreless second inning.
Things looked promising for Eastside in the third inning as Cody Walker drew a walk. After Matt Hitchcock reached on a fielder's choice, Keith Buckhault advanced him to second with a single and Briem scored Hitchcock with another single up the middle to tie the game.
Harlem answered back in the bottom of the third when they scored two runs on three hits to retake the lead 3-1, which they wouldn't relinquish.
Bailey continued to pitch for the Eagles, allowing only three hits over the next three innings and keeping Harlem from increasing its lead. But Harlem wouldn't need anything else, as Eastside was only able to scatter four hits over the remaining four innings, with three of those hits coming courtesy of the Buckhault brothers and a double by Wright.
Harlem will move on to the second round of the state playoffs, while Eastside will be left looking to improving next year.