What a difference a week made for the Eastside High School varsity baseball team.
After dropping a region game to Lanier High School last week, the Eastside baseball team had redemption on its mind Tuesday night in a rematch against the Longhorns.
Riding the arm of sophomore hurler Gray Ritchey, Eastside took a 3-1 victory over visiting Lanier, improving its record to 6-1 in region play, while dropping the Longhorns to 5-2 in Region 8-AAAA.
The game ended up being a pitching duel between Ritchey and Lanier’s Kam Doster, as both turned in strong performances from the mound.
Ritchey gave up a pair of singles to the top of the line-up to start the game, but the Eagles’ defense helped him close the inning without letting a run score. Ritchey settled in for the second inning by striking out the side.
Doster, likewise, kept things in check for the Longhorns, cruising through the first two innings without allowing a hit.
Both teams put up an unearned run in the third inning, keeping the score even at 1-1. The Eagles' run came when Josh Sims reached on an error and was then driven in by an Austin Holloway single.
Ritchey and the Eastside defense shut down Lanier in the fourth inning and were soon back swinging the bats, taking the lead in the bottom of the frame with a lead-off walk to Austin Kerbow and a single off the bat of senior Peyton Pallay. A single from Sims helped move the runners over and Holloway plated a run on a fielder’s choice while Pallay crossed the plate on a Longhorn error, increasing Eastside’s lead to 3-1.
Doster remained effective for the Longhorns through the rest of the game, giving up only a Jared Jones single in the fifth inning, but the damage had already been done.
Ritchey continued his dominance through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, preserving the 3-1 win for the Eagles.
Earning the complete game victory, Ritchey’s numbers on the night netted him nine strikeouts and zero walks while only giving up four hits.
“I was very pleased with Grady’s performance tonight,” Eastside coach Jon Ayres said. “He stayed focused throughout the entire game.
“I was proud of the effort put forth by our defense and the intensity that was maintained in the dugout,” he said. “We treated this game as a must-win game in order to stay in contention for a region championship.”
The Eagles travel to Madison County on Wednesday and will close out the week on Friday by hosting Walnut Grove.