The Eastside baseball team is Region 8-AAAA champions, thanks to a combination of events that took place Thursday and Friday.
The Eagles (21-5, 13-3 Region 8-AAAA) took care of the first step themselves, sweeping Chestatee 10-4 and 7-2 Thursday and Friday, respectively. The victories came after a disappointing loss to Lumpkin County Tuesday, dropping Eastside to second place. After pulling off the back-to-back wins, Eastside then needed some help from Stephens County and Walnut Grove.
Stephens County was sitting in first place with a 12-3 mark, one game up on Eastside, before the Indians faced Madison County Friday. Madison County pulled off the upset 5-4 Friday, putting the Eagles a game ahead of Stephens County.
However, Lanier still had a shot to take over first place in the region facing Walnut Grove in two games. The Warriors pulled off the sweep, 5-4 in nine innings Wednesday and 16-2 in five innings Friday, to put the Eagles in sole position of first place.
The Eastside players watched the above scenario unfold via scoreboard watching on their cellphones on the long bus ride home from Chestatee. When the news was confirmed, the team erupted in a roar of cheers and high-fives.
“I am very happy for our school, our community and most importantly for our players,” Eastside coach Jon Ayres said. “The region championship is a product of hard work and support from everyone involved with Eastside Eagle Baseball.”
The region championship wasn’t Eastside’s only reason to celebrate during the last two games of the season, as the Eagles celebrated senior night Thursday, honoring Musashi Briem, Ty Raynor, Daniel Garrett, Hunter White, Chase Chancey and Cody Walker.
The Eagles gave them a nice send-off with the six-run victory. Ty Raynor got the start on the mound, giving up seven hits over five innings of work while walking two and striking out a pair. The Eagles tallied 11 hits with Drew Buckhault pacing the team, going 3 for 3 on the night. Nick Womack and Daniel Garrett each had a pair of hits, and getting one hit a piece were Evan House, Cody Walker, Peyton Pallay and Hunter Ballard.
Dustin Kerbow came on in relief in the final two innings, to close it out, giving up two hits, walking two batters and striking out two more.
Friday’s regular season finale had Peyton Pallay starting on the mound, keeping the War Eagles off the scoreboard through the first five innings allowing only one hit.
Meanwhile, the Eastside offense was also stalled, putting one run on the board through five innings courtesy of a Hunter Ballard single.
The Eagles sparked a rally in the sixth inning plating six runs as Chestatee put the first two batters on base with a walk and an error. Eastside capitalized on the opportunity and followed with single from Buckhault followed by a pair of doubles from Nick Womack and Daniel Garrett.
Chestatee scratched out a run in the sixth inning after Pallay issued a leadoff walk and then hit the next batter, followed by an RBI single to right field.
Through six innings of work, Pallay gave up two hits and two walks while striking out six batters. Gray Ritchey took the mound as the closer in the seventh inning and held Chestatee to one unearned run as the Eagles sealed the 7-2 win.
The Region 8-AAAA champion Eagles will enter the state playoffs as a No. 1 seed and will host a three-game series against the Region 5-AAAA No. 4 seed Friday.