Lawson spread five hits in a complete game effort fanning nine Eagles. Lawson’s occasional lack of command of his curve ball resulted in three hit batters. “I felt like I stayed consistent. My curve ball, I felt like I didn’t really have command of it. Overall it wasn’t bad, I just felt a lot better with my fast ball. I got one pitch up and it hurt me. Other than that I felt like I did really well,” said the winning pitcher. “We have a big ballgame tomorrow night. Hopefully, we can come out and take care of business then go on to the next game.” After a scoreless two innings, the Raiders got on the board first in the bottom half of the third. Lawson reached on a error and moved up on Adam Taylor’s sacrifice bunt. Lawson gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead on a 2-out single to right field by Derek Shugart.
Cleveland turned a near disaster into a 3-0 lead in the fifth scoring two unearned runs. Taylor struck out but reached first on a passed ball and went to second when the next batter, Jeb Scoggins, was hit by a pitch. Shugart stepped to the plate and ripped a bullet line drive to Rhea third baseman Renzie Goins who narrowly missed a force at third. Goins turned and fired to second in an effort to catch Taylor off base but the ball sailed to right field allowing Scoggins and Taylor to race home with the Raiders’ third and fourth runs. The Eagles got two runs back in the top of the sixth when Lawson left a curve ball up for Goins who sent the mistake over the right-center field fence. Rhea’s next batter sent right fielder Wes Constant again racing toward the fence. Constant’s catch on the run sent him crashing into the fence while holding onto the ball for the second out. Lawson fanned the final out of the inning to end the threat and struck out two more in the top of the seventh to close out the win.
Cleveland will return to Rhea County High School tonight at 7 to face the Walker Valley Mustangs in Round 2 of the tournament that will send the loser home for the season. Carson said the Raiders are no strangers to such situation and he feels the team will come through again. “We’ve been there before and these kids always respond. I expect nothing but a good game tomorrow night,” said Carson. We are looking forward to it.”
CLEVELAND 3, RHEA COUNTY 2
Rhea County 000 002 0 — 2 5 2
Cleveland 001 020 x — 3 4 0
WP: Dustin Lawson. LP: Tyler Miles. HR: Renzie Goins (RC). 2B: Justin Freeman (RC). Records: Rhea County 14-16; Cleveland 19-11.