The Eagles' offense finally woke up, the Eagles' defense held on in key moments and the Eastside Eagles maintained a spot in the Region 8-AAAA softball tournament on Wednesday.
Eastside defeated Stephens County 7-3 on the road, but took an extra inning to do so.
With the game tied 2-2 going into the top of the eighth inning, Eastside started with a runner on second, Jordan Hilty, thanks to the international tiebreaker rule, and Taz Powell bunted her to third. Hilty slid in safe as Stephens County's defense tried to get her out rather than going for the safe play in Powell at first.
The next batter up, Kristen Hilley hit a single up the middle to score Hilty, moved Powell to second and broke the stalemate 3-2, in favor of Eastside (11-10, 4-3). Katie Ray followed with a single to right to score Powell and Hilley to give Eastside a 5-2 lead.
Savannah Upshaw then sacrificed Ray's pinch runner over from first to third, who then came home on a single by Bailey Stewart. Victoria Reich followed with a double, which scored Tamaria Woods, pinch running for Stewart to finish off Eastside's five-run eighth inning.
The Eagles allowed just one run in the bottom of the eighth to hold on.
Holding on is exactly what Eastside had to do in earlier innings with runners on second and third and no outs in the sixth and a runner on first with the heart of the order coming up in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, Stephens County tried to bunt its two runners over but couldn't get it down and Reese Rogers managed to get the strike out. The next batter up tried another bunt but it was a line drive to Upshaw charging the batter's box from first base, who caught the fly and stepped on first for the double play.
"We were very fortunate we got out of that inning unscathed," Eastside coach Jason Stokes said.
In the bottom of the seventh, Stephens County again got the leadoff runner on base. This time, however, Eastside got two quick outs thanks to a trick play.
The second batter of the inning hit a ball to Rogers in the circle, who then threw to Powell covering first from second after Upshaw ran up on the bunt attempt. Powell then faked the throw to second as the Stephens' County runner was charging the bag on the bunt.
Jordan Hilty, covering second base from shortstop, turned as if the ball had gotten past her and the center fielder faked running toward the fence, pretending to chase the ball. The runner at second fell for the ruse and ran toward third, where Powell threw the ball which was in her glove the whole time for the out.
Those two big innings and Eastside's explosion in the eighth helped the Eagles stay in the race for a possible home field advantage in the region tournament.
The Eagles currently have three losses, along with Lanier, which played Monroe Area Thursday night. Lumpkin County has just one loss but has two more games remaining before the region tournament.
The tournament, which begins Sept. 25 gives byes to the top two teams, Walnut Grove and Madison County, and puts the third seed at home against the sixth seed and the fourth seed against the fifth.
Eastside plays its final region game when it hosts Chestatee Wednesday at 5:30 and plays its final home game Thursday night against Salem.