Eastside was tested during Wednesday’s 9-7 win over Walnut Grove, trailing throughout, except for when it counted at the end.
The first six Eastside (13-1, 5-0 Region 8-AAAA) batters failed to get on base, as the Eagles were stymied throughout the first two innings. However, Eastside pitcher Daniel Garrett was having trouble getting much by the Walnut Grove (6-9, 3-2) hitters when a leadoff single, followed by a double and a sacrifice-fly put its first run on the board. The second inning wasn’t better for Garrett as a pair of walks were sandwiched by a single and a home run to put Eastside at a 5-0 deficit after two innings of play.
Eastside began to fight its way back in the third with freshman Nick Womack and sophomore Evan House reaching on singles before being driven home by Peyton Pallay’s single to right field. Pallay continued around to third after the right fielder misplayed the ball and let it get to the fence. Walnut Grove’s pitcher then balked, allowing Pallay to trot home and close the deficit to two, 5-3, at the middle of the third inning.
Garrett started to settle in on the mound, working through the third and fourth innings without allowing a hit.
Meanwhile, the Eagles continued to swing their bats well with Womack hitting a double in the fourth, but ending up stranded. The offensive production in the fifth allowed Eastside to score three runs to momentarily take the lead on the strength of hits from Pallay, Musashi Briem and Drew Buckhault. The Warriors answered back to retake the lead in the bottom half of the inning, scoring two runs courtesy of a double, a sac-fly and a couple of singles by the heart of their order. A double-play turned by Hank Steele and Evan House ended the threat in the fifth, but the Eagles were still trailing 7-6.
The Eagles could only muster a lone base runner in the sixth inning when Cody Walker reached on a single. With Garrett still on the mound for Eastside, the Warriors also struggled, putting only one man on base with a single. That runner was soon erased as Hunter Ballard gunned him down trying to steal second base.
With Eastside still behind 7-6, things were looking bleak for the Eagles in the seventh as the Warriors recorded two quick outs. With Buckhault at the plate, the count was full and the Eagles were down to their last strike. Buckhault didn’t disappoint, doubling down the right field line to spark a glimmer of hope for Eastside.
Jacob Wilder was inserted at second base as a pinch-runner for Buckhault. Wilder made the most of a slim opportunity when the catcher blocked up a strike in the dirt.
With the ball only a few feet away from home plate, Wilder sped toward third base as the catcher rushed his throw and sailed the ball into left field. Wilder scrambled back to his feet and scored to tie the game at seven.
With the momentum shifting, Ballard stroked a single to put himself aboard and then promptly moved into scoring position on a passed ball.
Womack continued to swing a hot bat, doubling to center field allowing Ballard to score the go-ahead run. Steele then reached base on a hard hit ball that the shortstop was unable to handle as an insurance run was plated with Womack scoring. Now pitching with a lead, Garrett again took the mound to close out the game.
A pair of strike outs and a fly ball out finished the inning and secured the victory for Eastside.
Eastside hosts the rematch with Walnut Grove today at 6 p.m.