Eastside baseball and new coach Jon Ayres opened its season with a home victory, beating Rockdale 3-2 Monday.
The Bulldogs fought back to tie it in the bottom of the seventh, but Eastside capitalized on a walk that eventually scored on a deep fly ball to center by Daniel Garrett.
Eastside entered the bottom of the seventh tied 2-2 with a strikeout to bring up the top of its order. Rockdale then struggled to find the strike zone and walked Chase Chancey and Peyton Pallay back to back. Again going deep into the count, Rockdale intentionally walked senior Musashi Briem to load the bases for Garrett. Garrett unloaded on the 2-1 pitch to deliver the walk-off sacrifice fly when Chancey crossed the plate.
“I was pleased by the effort of the team to fight back after giving up the two runs,” Ayres said.
Pallay started the season opener for the Eagles, and proved up to the task by facing the minimum through the first three innings. After a three-up-and-three-down first inning, the Eagle’s offense began working in the second inning with a leadoff single by senior Garrett, followed by a walk issued to Drew Buckhault.
Hank Steele drove in the first run with a deep sacrifice fly to center that allowed Garrett to score. Buckhault would also score in the second after a fielding error by the Bulldog first baseman. The left-handed Pallay continued to put up a strong performance allowing only a couple of scattered hits in the scoreless fourth and fifth innings.
With the 2-0 lead for Eastside holding through the fifth inning, the Bulldogs would mount a threat in the sixth inning. Dustin Kerbow took the mound for Eastside and started strong when the leadoff hitter grounded back to the pitcher for the first out. But after a pair of walks and a hit batsmen, the Bulldogs had the bases loaded and were looking to capitalize on the opportunity. Kerbow gave way on the mound to fireballer Buckhault. He walked the first batter he faced which forced in a run to make the score 2-1.
With the No. 4 hitter up for Rockdale, Bulldogs fans were on their feet hoping to take the lead, but Buckhault induced a ground ball back to the pitcher which allowed the Eagles to get out of the inning on a 1-2-3 double play. Eastside was unable to give themselves any type of a cushion in their half of sixth inning and Buckhault again took the mound in an effort to close out the game in the seventh.
The first batter grounded back to the pitcher, followed by a walk to the second man up in the inning who was promptly thrown out by sophomore Hunter Ballard while attempting to steal second. With two outs and nobody on base, it appeared as if the Eagles had the game well in hand. Rockdale continued to battle by drawing a walk with the next man up to the plate. A pop fly to right field was mishandled by Eastside and that sent the runner in motion as he scored from first while the Eagle defense tried to stop the ensuing chaos.
Another walk and a strikeout would end the inning for Rockdale and the Eastside boys found themselves entering the bottom of the seventh inning tied.
Eastside faces Jackson today before traveling to cross county rival Newton for a Saturday match-up.