EATON — The Eaton Eagles baseball team (11-9) played its first game in the 2016 sectional tournament at Brower Field last Wednesday evening, May 1, beating Thurgood Marshall 21-0.
Eaton hosted the Cougars in their quest for the state championship trophy after winning a share of the SWBL Southwestern Division. Through excellent pitching, the Eagles notched the shutout of Thurgood Marshall.
Bradley Curry earned the postseason win, allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out four batters. Austin Dey finished the game by pitching the last two innings, logging in three strikeouts and allowing two hits. The Eagles allowed only three hits from the Cougars throughout the game, allowing a runner to reach scoring position only once from a double hit in the top of the fifth inning by Aaron Tillman. The Eagles enjoyed a multitude of Thurgood miscues, benefiting from a total of six hit batsmen and 11 walks, in addition to 11 hits and a large number of Cougar errors.
The first inning saw Curry strike out two Cougar batters and allow his one hit of the contest.
The bottom of the first was when the floodgates were opened up on the visitors. Curry was walked to lead off the inning, as was Trevor Pittman. With runners at third and second, after advancing on wild pitches, Donnie Nicodemus slammed a triple to right centerfield to earn two RBIs.
With two outs, Colton Gray made it to base on a fielding error. Alex Rowe was hit by an errant pitch, while Max Fadden was walked on four straight balls. Lew Bowser reached base on a passed ball that loaded the bases.
Next up was Curry, who brought all three runners home on a double. Blake Curry was next, but was out on a pop fly.
The second inning was almost a similar case for the Eagles. Pittman was hit by pitch and Nicodemus was granted a base on balls. The third batter, Henry Durham, belted a home run over the right field wall to add three more runs to the score, which at that point was 10-0. Rowe also crossed the plate on a single, stolen base, and walked in after three of the next four batters gained bases being hit by pitches.
With bases loaded, a deep fly out left three on base, but the scoreboard showed the Eagles with a commanding 11-0 lead.
The third inning was equally disastrous for the visiting Cougars.
After going three and out, TM switched out starting pitcher Benjamin Booker with Fred White, who walked the first batters before Rowe hit a hit a single to bring home Nicodemus. Dey was walked, which brought in Durham, and Bowser knocked in an RBI for Colton Gray to score.
Two flyouts later, Blake Curry hit a single for an RBI, and Nicodemus gained first base on a fielding error by third baseman Daequan Edwards, allowing yet another run. The sequence of play saw Durham single, Gray hit by a pitch, and Rowe single again before the eight-run inning was over.
The fourth inning wasn’t quite as brutal, but a pair of walks and a single loaded up the bases until Nicodemus reached base on a throwing error, allowing two more runs to score. Once again, the third out of the inning left three Eagles on base.
The lone bright spot for Thurgood Marshall came in the final inning when Aaron Tillman hit a double to right centerfield, but Dey struck out two of the next three batters to end the game.
“The big thing was that nobody got hurt, we are grateful for that,” said Eaton Head Coach Patrick Flannigan. “I told my guys that in a game like this, sometimes it’s tough to stay disciplined at the plate and they did that very well today. They didn’t reach for the ball outside the plate, and finding pitches to hit, they found the right balls. They hit them and I’m happy with their batting today.
“Bradley and Austin threw well on the mound and I am pleased overall with what we’ve done today, and the attitude we have going into tomorrow’s game (versus Waynesville,)” Flannigan said. “We had six of our boys get hit by pitches and they understand that it’s part of the game. Sometimes a player just can’t find the strike zones and they didn’t get upset about it — our guys know that and they just took their bases and went from there. Blake Curry’s been good for us all year long and I couldn’t have been happier with him this year. He’s got a good arm and he has good vision, so when someone tries to steal a base, he has a pretty good chance to pick them off.”
With the win, Eaton advanced to the next round of sectionals on Thursday, May 12, against the awaiting fourth-seed Waynesville, who had received a bye in the first round. The Eagles’ season ended with a 3-2 loss to the Spartans.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH