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New coach, new goals
A look at the Eastside baseball team
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Brad Weir was sitting in his home in Jessup getting ready to go back to school.

The four-year Wayne County coach had recently retired and was getting ready to go to work on a master's degree, when his phone rang with a call from an old friend.

The caller was Eastside football coach Rick Hurst contacting Weir about a head coaching job with the Eagles. The two have known each other since they were growing up in towns about 20 minutes apart. Weir lived in Ringold, while Hearst is from Trenton.

"He really persuaded me to come down," Weir said. "He talked to me about the program and where it was, and that it needed some new life in it."

Weir agreed to take over a team that finished 17-13 and reached the second round of the state playoffs in 2011, and is filled with depth.

The Weir era got off on the right foot in a 9-3 win over Newton Monday night, thanks in part to that depth.

The Eagles started their hardest throwing pitcher, Drew Buckhault but after the umpire showed that the strike zone would be smaller, Weir went to Matt Hitchcock out of the bullpen.

Buckhault and Hitchcock are just two of 11 pitchers Weir feels can step on the mound on any given night.

"I've never been this deep on the mound," Weir said. "We just don't have that one dominant pitcher who can run out on a Tuesday and throw it 90 miles per hour by everybody. We have 11 guys who throw strikes and can battle you. We'll keep the ball down and you won't be able to hit the ball in the air much against us."

Some of the pitchers joining Buckhault and Hitchcock as starters will be Jason Bream, Daniel Garrett and Ty Rayanor.

"We have enough arms where I think we can win some games," Weir said.

Backing up the pitchers on the field will be more depth, with several options available at positions throughout the field.

Weir said the only position with one player locked in is third base, where Drew's younger brother, Keith will be the starter.

Joey Mitchell and Garrett will make up the shortstop, with one playing while the other pitches.

Hank Steele will start at second base with wrestler Tyler Bailey getting back in baseball shape. First base will offer a bevy of options in Jason Bream, Peyton Pallay and Jake Wright.

Five guys will rotate throughout the outfield, with Hitchcock starting in left when he's not pitching. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Tee Sims will back him up when he's not in the lineup as a designated hitter. Gerald Sumner will take the field in center, with Wright in right and Gerald Sumner playing throughout the outfield.

Catching will be David VanLeuven and Drew Buckhault.
On offense the group will put a lot of balls in play, bunt runners over and play small ball to compensate for the newly regulated bats being used by the GHSA.

"I don't think a whole lot of high school teams are going to come out with the grand slam," Weir said. We're going to have to bunt, hit and run, steal and squeeze."

The Eagles play at Alcovy today before traveling to Valdosta for a tournament, and enter Region 4-AAA play at home against Stockbridge on March 2.

"I've ben excited since I've been here," Weir said. "We have a great group of kids and a real good group of parents who don't mid working. And I have an outstanding, outstanding coaching staff working with me; probably the best coaching staff I had in my 16 years as a head coach.

"It's been a real pleasant move for me."