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PREP BASEBALL: Eagles rally late to walk-off Jones County in home opener
Senior LHP Cade Mitchell strikes out 16 in dominant performance
Eastside Baseball
Senior left-hander Cade Mitchell struck out 16 batters over six scoreless innings to place Eastside in position to take down Jones County in the seventh inning Thursday night. - Mason Wittner | The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — Through the first six innings of Eastside’s home opener against Jones County on Thursday, neither club could buy offensive production.

The pitcher’s duel saw the teams combine for just two hits before speeding into the seventh inning with no runs on the board.

The Eagles were the first team to blink, resulting in Jones County scoring the first run of the night. But less than 10 minutes later, it was the home team dancing on the left side of the infield in celebration of victory.

At the plate with a pair of runners in scoring position and one out, Eastside junior Kyle Shivers bounced a double over the pitcher’s mound and into shallow center field, driving in a pair of runs to give the Eagles a 2-1 victory in walk-off fashion.

“That was fun. That was a lot of fun,” Eastside head coach Brandon Crumbley said. “We found a way to win a ballgame. Early in the year that’s good to see because a lot of times that doesn’t happen. I’m proud of the kids for not quitting, and for finding a way to push two across and win right there.”

A bat ultimately delivered the win for the Eagles (3-2), but it was an arm that put them in position. 

Senior left-hander Cade Mitchell was brilliant on the mound, striking out 16 while allowing just one hit and issuing one walk over six scoreless innings. He was quick and efficient, finishing the night on just 82 pitches, 63 of which were strikes.

“That’s the best I’ve seen [Cade] in the three years I’ve gotten to watch him pitch,” Crumbley said. “That was a pretty special performance. It kind of flew under the radar because he pitched so quickly, but that was probably the best performance I’ve seen out of him in his career.”

The veteran southpaw was visibly locked in from his first pitch of the night. He attributed his success to his methodical approach and ability to block out noise.

“I tried to stay calm and a lot more fluid, and I really got in a zone where I couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t feel anything,” Mitchell said. “I just took it pitch by pitch.”

Senior Ethan Booth took over on the mound for the Eagles in the seventh inning. Jones County’s John Alan Richter led off the frame with a double and moved up to third base on a sacrifice bunt. Ben Gordon then roped a line-drive single to right field, driving in the first run of the night.

Gordon was caught trying to steal second base, and Colin Chapman flied out to center field to end the frame.

Eastside’s seventh-inning rally began when senior Tanner Middlebrooks reached base on error by Jones County second baseman Kendal Wood. Junior Slade Holloway followed with a single to right. The pair advanced to second and third, respectively, on defensive indifference during Shivers’ game-winning at-bat.

The Eagles will be back in action Saturday, Feb. 27, as they host Jackson at 3:30 p.m.