By Jeffery Armstrong
It looks like the Eagle's Landing Golden Eagles baseball team finally got the hang of this extra-inning baseball thing.
After blowing a 7-6 lead in the top of the seventh inning, the Eagles scratched and clawed their way to a 10-9 win over the Stockbridge Tigers in nine innings. A few weeks ago, the Eagles lost an 11-inning marathon to the Luella Lions.
"This win shows the heart and character of this team," said Eagle's Landing head coach Toby Evans. "They always fought back to keep the game going. We had a lot of guys step up in this contest."
Eagle's Landing improves to 8-5, 4-1 in Region 3-AAAA action while Stockbridge falls to 4-12, 2-4 in the region. The two teams meet for the rematch Saturday at 1 p.m. at Stockbridge High.
Eagle's Landing looked to put the game away in the first inning. After Eagles starting pitcher David Lane spotted Stockbridge a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Eagles cranked four straight hits off Tigers starter Ricky Stanley. Eagles shortstop Adam Fine hit a solo home run to left, second baseman Josh Ifill doubled and third baseman Luke Murton blasted a two-run homer to straight-away center for a 3-1 Eagles lead. Eagles catcher Tommy Griffiths then doubled, but he was stranded on third base.
Stockbridge erupted for five runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-4 lead. Tigers starting third baseman Donnie Wright's two-run double started the inning and consecutive RBI singles from Blain McGhee and Andy Love (and a steal of home by McGhee) finished their scoring. Eagle's Landing scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at six and Murton's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth gave the Eagles a 7-6 lead. That's when the action began.
In the top of the seventh, Stockbridge's Josh Throckmorton reached on an error and took second on a wild pitch by Lane. Joey Shoemaker sacrificed Throckmorton to third and after a strikeout, Tigers catcher Kevin Lee worked the count full before smacking a double off the left-field wall to tie the game at seven. Wright then singled to score Lee and give Stockbridge an 8-7 lead.
"This was one of the best games I've ever played and it's great that it came in my senior year," Lee said. "I hate we lost, but this team showed it has fight and heart. We can play with anybody in this region, for sure."
Stockbridge then was one out away from clinching this game in the bottom of the seventh, but Eagles senior first baseman Bradley Carden hit a shot down the third-base line to score Lane's pinch-runner, tying the game at eight.
"I've been struggling all year and it was great to get that hit," Carden said. "That was a crazy game I'm glad we were able to come out on top."
Both teams scored a run apiece in the eighth inning to make the score 9-9.
In the top of the ninth inning, new pitcher Murton retired the side without a run and in the bottom of the ninth, the Eagles finally ended the game. Carden tripled to left-center and Fine's grounder to second scored Carden with the winning run.
"I would've liked to have ended the game with a big hit, but I'm glad we finally came out on top," Fine said. "Neither team gave up; what a game."