LOGANVILLE, Ga. — It wasn’t a win that locked up the region title, but you wouldn’t have known that judging from the reaction Eastside had after winning Wednesday night’s Region 8-AAAAA matchup with Loganville by a final of 6-5.
What the win did do was secure the No. 3 playoff seed out of Region 8 for the Eagles and snap Loganville’s streak of three straight region titles. Greenbrier defeated Clarke Central, which broke the tie for the top spot in the region and prevented a region playoff game between the Wolfpack and the Red Devils.
“We didn’t play the best, but we found a way to win,” Eastside head coach Brandon Crumbley said. “They made some mistakes and we capitalized on them. Take nothing away from (Loganville). They’re still a really good ball club, historically and this year. But we did what we needed to do tonight”
Eastside came out hyped up for the contest after upsetting the Red Devils 4-0 on Monday thanks to a gem of a pitching performance by Cade Mitchell. That, combined with Loganville pitcher Dawson Coe struggling to find the strike zone early in Wednesday’s contest, led to a 3-0 Eastside lead midway through the first inning.
All of the Eagles’ runs in the first game came off passed balls that allowed runners to score from third. The Eagles added three more runs in the top of the second thanks to two Loganville errors and a sacrifice fly by Hunter Denney that drove in Kyle Shivers before Coe was replaced on the mount by Matthew Heard.
However, Loganville quickly answered with five runs in the bottom half of the inning. Will Cawthon got the scoring started with a double to center field that drove in Chan Haulk and Jackson Chizek. That was followed up by Cawthon scoring on a passed ball.
But the exclamation point of the Loganville’s offensive rally was a 2-run homer from Jackson Daniel that made it 6-5 in favor of Eastside.
While the big inning for Loganville was impressive, it would be the only real offensive output the Red Devils wound up producing all night.
Eastside starting pitcher Holden Hall was pulled in favor of Caleb Williams in the second and Williams went on to control the Red Devils’ offense the rest of the contest. Williams finished the night by pitching 5 2/3 innings, giving up just three hits and two walks while striking out two batters.
“Hat’s off to Caleb Williams for coming in there in a big situation, a one-run ball game, and keeping it where it was,” Crumbley said.
Conversely, Heard kept the Eagles’ offense in check once he took over on the mound for the Red Devils. Heard finished the night with eight strikeouts and just two hits in his 5 2/3 innings of work.
Loganville had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh when the Red Devils were able to get two runners on base with two outs in the inning. However, a routine ground ball to short ended the Loganville scoring threat.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Loganville head coach Jeff Segars said. “We had opportunities to get it done and we didn’t. It’s a mentality thing. Give Eastside credit, they made pitches where they needed.”
The playoff seeding out of Region 8-AAAAA is now set with Greenbrier as the region champion and No. 1 seed, Loganville the No. 2 seed, Eastside the No. 3 seed and Walnut Grove the No. 4 seed. Region 8 will be matched up with Region 5 for the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs beginning next week.
As of Wednesday evening, first-round matchups had not been completely finalized, but it was confirmed that Eastside will travel to St. Pius to open the state playoffs. Walnut Grove will travel to Region 5 champion Decatur for the first round.