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PREP BASEBALL: Eastside's Jackson Feeney shuts down Woodward Academy in pivotal region win
Jackson Feeney
Eastside pitcher Jackson Feeney launches a pitch during Wednesday night's 4-1 win at Woodward Academy. -photo by Michael Pope

Region 4-AAAA Standings

1. Eastside 12-1, 4-0 

2. Druid Hills 8-6, 3-1

3. Hampton 5-9, 3-1

4. Woodward Academy 7-6, 2-1 

5. Salem 2-7, 1-2

6. Luella 1-10, 1-3 

7. North Clayton 0-5, 0-3 

8. Henry County 2-10, 0-3

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — With Jackson Feeney on the bump and the Eastside Eagles up 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and runners at the corners, tying run at the plate, in a key game with Woodward Academy that would likely decide the Region 4-AAAA race, Feeney’s coach Brandon Crumbley needed to do a check on his pitcher’s well-being before the final out.

“He asked me if I wanted to win the ball game, and I said ‘Yes sir,’ and he said ‘Alright, let’s get it,’ so I went after it,” said Feeney.

Woodward Academy’s Mark Gallup — the only Woodard batter to register a hit for the War Eagles in the game — made contact with Feeney’s last pitch, but it ended up as a pop-fly to left field that was easily fielded for the final out, prompting Eastside joy. 

That’s because, with the win, the Eastside Eagles baseball team (12-1, 4-0 in Region 4-AAAA) broke a three-game losing skid against Woodward Academy and soared to the top of the Region 4-AAAA standings with a 4-1 road victory over the War Eagles Wednesday night.

The game was a pitcher’s duel between two of the region’s best, yet it was Feeney who outshined Woodward pitcher and 2020 South Carolina commit Will Sanders.

In arguably the Eagles’ toughest game yet, Feeney gave his team a masterful performance, tossing a complete-game one-hitter, with six strikeouts. Eastside’s only run surrendered was of the unearned variety. Feeney baffled opposing hitters all night with a great mixture of pitches that left head coach Brandon Crumbley impressed but not surprised.

“He wanted it (this start). He’s been wanting it, and it showed,” Crumbley said. “He did a phenomenal job. We couldn’t ask for a better job from him. He’s just pitched well all year, man. He’s busted his tail in the offseason, and he’s done what he’s needed to do to earn that spot and I’m extremely proud of him.”

Feeney was more than pleased with his outstanding performance but gave all the credit to Eagles pitching coach Ashley Senn who came over from a stint as Alcovy’s head coach to help bolster Eastside’s coaching staff.

“I just go up there and get the momentum going and just go with it,” said Feeney. “Coach Senn, he calls some great pitches. It’s really him, I’m just throwing it.”

The Eagles’ bats had a tough game against the War Eagles’ ace hurler, but broke through and found a way to manufacture runs in the later stages of the game.

Eagles catcher John Robert McGowan had the big hit of the night as he put the first run on the board for either team with a solo shot to deep right field in the top of the 5th inning. This hit seemed to give the Eagles a much-needed spark as they scored at least one run in the final two innings that followed. 

The War Eagles responded by scoring a run of their own as catcher Matthew Gallups, who had the team’s only hit on the night, doubled to left center. Gallups then attempted to steal third and an errant throw from the catcher ended up in left field allowing him to score.

With the game tied, the Eagles did not falter. They opened the top of the 6th with back-to-back hits from Noah Cook and Kyle Shivers.

Shivers bunted a ball and the War Eagles pitcher fielded it cleanly but threw it over the first baseman’s outstretched glove allowing Cook and Shivers to advance to second and third. Sambo Button then hit a hard-liner to center that could not be fielded cleanly, and Cook came in to score putting the Eagles up 2-1 in the top of the 6th.

The Eagles would pad their lead in the top of the 7th adding two more important insurance runs as they capitalized on crucial War Eagle mistakes.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Noah Cook slowly crept farther and farther towards second base. Yells from Woodward teammates about Cook’s movements seemed to shake new pitcher David Greene, and he balked allowing Eagles outfielder Lawson Beshears to trot home from third.

Two pitches later, Cook attempted a steal of third and the War Eagles catcher sent the ball dribbling into left field. Cook scored from third, setting the game’s final margin.

These insurance runs gave Feeney a more comfortable lead in the final inning and complete the game.
Getting this victory on the road against Woodward Academy puts the Eagles (12-1, 4-0)  in a great spot to win the region, but Crumbley knows they still have plenty of work to do over the next few days.

Eastside will put its seven-game winning streak on the line back at home Friday at 5:55 p.m. against winless North Clayton. Next week’s Monday-Wednesday-Friday stretch of region games begins at Hampton Monday and then with home games against Salem and Druid Hills.

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“This early in the year, it’s good to be where we’re at, but we got to go handle our business on Friday. This game won’t mean anything if we don’t take care of business on Friday at North Clayton and handle our business on Monday at Hampton.”