The 2014 version of the Eastside High School baseball team traveled across town Wednesday night, opening its season against Newton High School.
Second-year coach Jon Ayres has assembled a squad anchored by six seniors, but also started three freshmen in the field.
The outcome in the opener did not favor the Eagles, as the Rams came away with the 3-2 win, without the benefit of an earned run, courtesy of some Eastside miscues.
“We worked on getting some game experience for the majority of our roster tonight and saw a lot to be positive about,” Ayres said. “We will return to our practice field to work on some of the aspects of the game that gave us trouble tonight.”
Newton started Kenny Glover on the mound, and he promptly gave up a leadoff single to Hunter Ballard. With Ballard sacrificed to second base and then taking third on a wild pitch, the Eagles found themselves in business with runners on the corners with one out when Glover walked Drew Buckhault.
The momentum was quenched with a shallow pop fly to center for the second out, and Ballard was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.
Getting the start for the Eagles on the hill was Buckhault.
M.J. Boykin soon found himself on base with a leadoff walk. Buckhault gave up a pair of singles in the inning to Alan Bowlen and Dan Kroom, but got out of the inning without letting any runs score by mixing in a couple of pop-fly outs.
The game continued to be a scoreless affair until the bottom of the fourth inning. At the plate, Eastside batters scattered some hits around with four singles, but ended up leaving everyone stranded on base.
Buckhault settled in for the Eagles and struck out the side in the second inning before striking out another pair in the third, giving up only a single up the middle by Tristan McInerny. Sophomore Southpaw Chase Raines took over the pitching duties for the Eagles in the bottom of the fourth inning and started out strong, striking out Allen Bowen and Auilliver Astin. The inning was extended by a dropped ball in left field and an errant throw on a dropped third strike that put two men on base for the Rams. A base hit to center plated both unearned runs, as Newton took a 2-0 lead at the end of the fourth inning.
Eastside answered back, tying the score 2-2 in the top of the fifth with a leadoff single by Austin Kerbow and another walk to Buckhault. Both were lated on the strength of a double by Nick Womack.
Raines worked another stout inning, walking one batter and retiring the next three to keep the game tied. In the Eagles half of the sixth, a pinch-hit single was the lone bright spot as the Eastside offense was unable to get anything else going.
The Eastside pitching duties were handed off to freshman Josh Sims for the sixth inning and he struggled to find the strike zone, hitting three batters to load the bases before another Eagles error allowed the go-ahead run to score.
With the top of the order up for Eastside in the seventh inning, Rams closer Shawn Gukenberger did his job and shut down the Eagles.
Eastside returns to action Monday on the road at Heritage at 5:55 p.m.
Eastside girls win
The Eastside Lady Eagles varsity soccer team picked up a victory in its season opener Tuesday, defeating visiting Monticello 3-1 at Homer Sharp Stadium.
Three different Lady Eagles score in the win, with senior Alex Morvik starting off action with a goal in the first half.
Eastside was credited for an own goal just before the close of the opening period, sending the game into halftime tied 1-1.
The Lady Eagles broke the game open in the second half, netting goals from senior Becka McKelvey and Alyssa Banks. The goal was McKelvey's first career score, and Eastside held Monticello scoreless in the second half for the two-goal win.
Eastside returns to action Tuesday against rival Alcovy at Sharp Stadium.