“That was a long game,” said Cleveland coach Ted Carson. But, I’m proud of our kids. They hung in there. We got down in the first inning and battled back to score a couple of runs then had a big inning and got the lead.”
The Blue Raiders had to break out the shovels early after falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first when the Golden Eagles made the most of three singles, a double and a walk off Cleveland starter Jake Wyrick.
Cleveland (3-1, 1-0 5-AAA) came back to cut it to 3-2 in the bottom half of the inning thanks to singles by Kimsey Bell and Robert Parr. The Raiders were helped with three walks that scored Bell and Tyler Shugart.
After a scoreless second, the Blue Raiders erupted for seven runs.
Cleveland first baseman Jesse Jones tied the game for the Raiders in the third after leading off with a ground-rule double then scoring when the throw to try and catch Jones stealing third wound up in left field. Connor Hale doubled behind a walk to Jake Moats, bringing on a pitching change by the Eagles. Wyrick greeted the new Rhea hurler with a single that plated two runs for a 5-3 Cleveland lead.
Back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Shugart who promptly laced a two-run single to center. An error on the play put runners on second and third with still only one out. The fifth walk of the inning plated Cleveland’s eighth run and prompted another Eagles pitching change. One more walk made it 9-3 before the Eagles managed the final two outs of the inning.
The Blue Raiders sent 13 batters to the plate in their extended at bat.
The Eagles took advantage of a walk and two Cleveland errors and added a triple in the fourth to close the gap to 9-7. After a pitching change by Carson, the Raiders pulled off a 6-4-3 double play and squelched the Rhea rally with a ground ball third out.
“Jake had a big blister on his finger. Once it started breaking open he just couldn’t get anything on the ball. We had to pull him out, but Connor Hale did a great job coming in,” said Carson of his starter and reliever. We came back and scored some runs to give us a little leeway. They executed nice double plays to get us out of a couple of innings and Jesse had two or three scoops at first that got us out of a couple of innings.”
A bases-loaded walk in the Cleveland half of the frame added an insurance run and kept Cleveland out front 10-7.
Rhea County fought back to make it interesting in the seventh. The Eagles loaded the bases on a hit batter, a walk and single, then scored on a balk. Carson walked out to the mound to chat with his senior reliever and Hale responded with an infield fly to short and strikeout to slam the door for the win.
“I went out to talk to Connor and he told me he had it and felt confident. I was about ready to pull him and told him he had to throw strikes if he wanted to stay in. He did a good job with that,” Carson said.
BLUE RAIDERS 10, GOLDEN EAGLES 8
Rhea County 300 400 1 — 8 8 4
Cleveland 207 100 x — 10 9 2
WP: Connor Hale (2-0). LP: Will Clark. 3B: Brent Smith (RC). 2B: Hunter McClendon (RC); Hunter Scoons, Skyler Everett 2-4 (RC); Jesse Jones, Connor Hale, (C). Highlights: Kimsey Bell, Nick Miller 2-3 (C). Records: Cleveland 3-1, 1-0 5-AAA.