By Doug Gorman
The Union Grove Wolverines and Eagle's Landing Golden Eagles may not be in the same region, but that hasn't stopped the two Henry County schools from developing a heating rivalry on the baseball diamond.
Friday night on a rainy and damp night in Georgia the two teams met again and played a game that might some day go down as a classic.
In the end, it was Union Grove putting its home field advantage to use with a 9-8 victory. It was the second one-run contest between the two teams this season.
Earlier in the year, Eagle's Landing held on for a 5-4 win.
"Fans really got their money's worth out there tonight," said Union Grove head coach Vic Gongola.
The Wolverines jumped out to a 9-0 lead early, and needed every beat of that cushion as Eagle's Landing scored eight unanswered runs.
"We knew Eagle's Landing wasn't going to go away," said Gongola. "They wanted to win this game just as much as we did."
The seventh inning was filled with drama as the Golden Eagles nearly spoiled Union Grove's victory celebration.
Heading into the top of the seventh, Union Grove led 9-5. A collection of walks and a dramatic double by Luke Murton sparked a three-run explosion by the Golden Eagles.
Hollis Kinnett, Murton and B.J. Short scored the runs for Eagle's Landing, cutting the gap to 9-8.
When Derek Staats entered the game as the third Union Grove pitcher of the contest, things still hung in the balance.
Finally the drama ended when T.J. Taylor popped out for the last out of the game.
"I think we showed a lot of character out there tonight," said Gongola. "I really like the chemistry of this team."
Union Grove pounded out 10 hits and looked unstoppable early.
Paced by back-to-back singles by Josh Moss and Greg Davis, the Wolverines jumped out to four runs in the first inning. The big blow in the inning was from starting pitcher Colt Lynn who drove in three runs with a single.
Ryan Fawbush, and Clint Neville drove in runs in the second inning as the Wolverines pushed the lead to 6-0.
Davis and Fawbush both connected on RBI doubles and Lynn walked and later scored to spark the three-run fourth.
The 9-0 lead did hold up. Two runs by Eagle's Landing in the fifth cut the gap to 9-2. Kinnett's triple in the sixth sparked the Golden Eagles' three-run inning.
In the seventh, Matt Glass and Murton had the only hits during the rally, but nine batters came to the plate as the Golden Eagles turned a rout into an exciting high school baseball game.