COVINGTON, Ga. — When Eastside travelled to Ola for its season opener on Feb. 16, offense was at a premium.
The opposing pitching staffs and defenses were hard-set in their refusal to allow runners to cross home plate. In the fourth inning, the Mustangs collected an RBI double — one of just two hits on the day — that would prove to be the difference in a 1-0 victory.
Less than a month later, the clubs met once again for a rematch at the Eagle's Nest. This time around, no amount of pitching or defensive measures could contain the offensive explosion on either side.
Eastside and Ola tallied 29 combined hits Wednesday night as the Eagles eked out a 13-11 victory to move to 7-2 on the year.
“We’re staring to swing the bat a little bit better. Some young guys are starting to get a little bit of confidence,” Eastside head coach Brandon Crumbley said. “One thing that I think we’ve got to do a better job of is just when we get up big, we’ve got to put teams away and not let them come back.”
After giving up a three spot in the top of the first inning, Eastside answered with a 10-run home half of the frame. They allowed the Mustangs to stick around, however, as they surrendered four runs in the third inning and subsequent runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to allow Ola to stay within reach.
Eastside’s pitching, which had kept the club in each of its first eight games, produced its shakiest outing of the year. But the offense had no issue stepping in to pick up the slack, as junior Kyle Shivers continued to set the tone for the Eagles at the plate.
The second baseman went 5-for-5 with three doubles and a pair of RBI, continuing to prove himself as one of the toughest outs in the state of Georgia. Shivers is now 20-for-33 (.606) through nine games in 2021.
“Kyle is white-hot right now. I don’t know if he’s gotten out in the past three games,” Crumbley said. “He’s swinging the bat, he’s seeing the ball, which is good because guys are seeing what he’s doing and you have to pitch to the guys around him.”
One of the hottest bats in the state of Georgia belongs to Eastside second baseman Kyle Shivers. The junior went 5-for-5 with 3 doubles and 2 RBI in the Eagles' 13-11 triumph over Ola on Wednesday night.— Mason Wittner (@mason_wittner) March 4, 2021
He's now 20-for-33 (.606) through nine games 🔥 pic.twitter.com/v7RXDy0dhf
The Eagles collected 14 hits as a team, including six doubles, en route to driving in 13 runs. They’ve now outscored opponents 59-22 through the first three weeks of the season.
In addition to Shivers’ remarkable outing, seniors Mason Poole (2-for-4) and Sambo Button (3-for-5) also turned in multi-hit performances.
Despite having built up a seemingly insurmountable lead early, Eastside found itself clinging to a 13-10 advantage when Ola loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth inning. Nolan Sliver connected on the first pitch he saw and drove a shot into right field, but it found a glove before it found grass as the Eagles escaped the jam.
The Mustangs applied more pressure with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. However, Ola’s Braden Clark, who represented the tying run with his teammate on third base, struck out to end the game.
The Eagles will try for win No. 8 on Friday when they travel to Social Circle (2-4) for another non-region battle. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.