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Eastside splits weekend series
Eastside's Hank Steele applies a tag to a Mountain View runner in the Eagles' 2-0 loss to the Bears Saturday. - photo by Submitted Photo

The Eastside Eagles varsity baseball team traveled to Lawrenceville Saturday for a non-region, split double-header against Apalachee and Mountain View.

The first match-up against the Apalachee Wildcats (3-2) saw sophomore Gray Ritchey take the mound for the Eagles (2-3).

Ritchey had his best stuff working, and a well-prepared Eagle defense playing behind him, as the first two innings of Wildcat batters were retired in 1-2-3 order.

Meanwhile, a Hunter Ballard single to start the game gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead at the end of the first inning. A pair of singles in the third inning put two Wildcat runners on base, but they remained stranded, keeping the shutout intact for Eastside.

Ritchey then made a statement and struck-out the side in the fourth.

The Eagles put up a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, courtesy of a double from Chase Raines and a Josh Sims single.

The 3-0 Eagles lead proved to be enough, as Raines came on in relief of Ritchey and pitched 2-2/3 scoreless innings to preserve the victory for Eastside.

Also garnering hits for the Eagles in the game were Austin Holloway and Nick Womack.

The second game of the afternoon pitted the Eagles against the Mountain View Bears (4-1).

There was a buzz in the ballpark even before the game started because a number of MLB scouts were in attendance.

As the first pitch was delivered from Mountain View’s A.J. Moore, no less than a half-dozen radar guns were hoisted toward the mound to clock the velocity of the MLB prospect’s pitch. Moore did not disappoint, delivering a flurry of 90+ mph fastballs.

The Eastside hitters managed to put the ball in play, and they did get a trio of men on base with an error and a couple of walks, but the Eagles were unable to register a hit throughout the game.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good game by any stretch, though, as Eastside had senior leader Drew Buckhault on the hill, putting on a performance of his own for the scouts on hand.

After Buckhault yielding a leadoff single, the runner was gunned down by catcher Austin Holloway as he tried to steal second. The second batter pulled a double down the line, and the run that eventually was scored put the Bears ahead 1-0 after the first inning.

A leadoff single in the second also resulted in a run,, but after that, Buckhault settled in and the defense behind him did its job, preventing any more Mountain View runs from crossing the plate.

The score remained 2-0 throughout the game, and one of the more exciting plays occurred when a Mountain View runner on second was picked off by a snap throw from catcher Holloway to shortstop Hank Steele.

Buckhault exited after five innings of work, giving up six hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out four batters.

Sims came on in relief to pitch a scoreless sixth inning, giving Eastside a chance in the seventh.

With A.J. Moore leaving the game (six innings, no hits, eight strikeouts and two walks), the Eagles faced submarine pitcher Ben Utley. He closed the game by inducing three groundouts to the second baseman to preserve the 2-0 win for Mountain View.

After the game, Eagles coach Jon Ayres said that he was very pleased with the way his squad played  against two very good teams.

“Our pitching was good all day long and our defense was solid throughout both games” Ayres said. “This caliber of competition will certainly help us prepare for our upcoming region games.”.

Eastside takes the field again today when it hosts the Morgan County Bulldogs.