After not having baseball in 2020 due to the COVID-19 cancellation of spring sports, the Eastern Eagles are working through their first full season of playing in Division II of the Southern Ohio Conference with the bigger league schools.
On Friday night, the Eagles tasted their first SOC II success of the season, rolling past the visiting Oak Hill Oaks 9-1 with a huge second inning.
“I think it is huge,” said Eastern coach Bill Garrison. “I feel like we are behind the eight-ball in the SOC II. It is just a difficult and challenging transition. We are playing schools that have 25-man rosters and also J.V. teams. We tried to have a J.V. team this year, but we had four or five freshmen get hurt. Next year, I am going to go ahead and schedule J.V. games. I feel confident we will have the numbers next year if we stay healthy.”
Oak Hill’s only opportunity to score came in the top of the first inning. Isaiah Needham generated a one-out single, moved to second on a bunt from Rylan Sams and scored on a single from Aidan Hall, 1-0.
That lead stuck until the bottom of the second inning when the Eagles opened the floodgates to plate nine runs. Jacob Overly and Dylan Morton delivered back-to-back singles to start the offense. Then Trenten Brown singled to center field, sending Overly across the dish to knot the contest at 1-1. Braylon Lamerson had the next single, an infield hit that allowed the bases to fill with Eagles. Brayden Webb followed with a double to center field, scoring Morton and Brown to put EHS up 3-1. Senior Gage Denny connected on the next double, sending Lamerson home while pushing Webb to third, 4-1. Next, Eastern freshman Teagan Werner sent a line drive to left field and reached base safely on an error that allowed Webb to score, 5-1. Werner was able to advance to second.
A pitching change by the Oaks resulted in a strikeout, but then three straight walks were issued to Eagles Logan Clemmons, Overly and Morton. Overly’s walk pushed Denny across the plate, while Morton’s walk sent Werner home, 7-1. Up next, Brown delivered an infield single to third base, scoring Clemmons, 8-1. Lamerson capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center field, plating Overly to create the 9-1 lead. A strikeout brought the rally to a close.
The remainder of the game was a defensive battle between the teams. Oak Hill was able to load the bases in the top of the third, but Eastern was up to the task of preventing anyone from scoring. Gage Denny secured a fly ball in right field for the first out. Oak Hill’s Ethan Sickles was waiting at third and tried to make it home. But Denny’s throw to catcher Logan Clemmons was in time, and the out was recorded at the plate. The final Oak batter of the inning grounded out to Jacob Overly at shortstop.
Oak Hill had just three more base runners in the game, having two reach via walk and one connect on a single. Lamerson had Eastern’s final hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning. Denny was on base twice more, reaching once on an error and then working a walk.
Offensively for the Eagles, Trenten Brown finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run. Denny was 1-for-2 with a double, one run and one RBI. Webb finished 1-for-3 with a run, a double and two RBIs. Braylon Lamerson was 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI. Lance Barnett finished 1-for-3, while Jacob Overly was 1-for-3 with two runs and one stolen base.
Freshman Dylan Morton pitched the entire game. He gave up one earned run on five hits, while striking out three and walking two. Morton helped his own cause from the plate by going 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
“I would have to say he is our ace,” said Garrison. “I start him in the big games. Dylan is a true pitcher.”
Eastern has five seniors on the roster this year including Trenten Brown, Jacob Overly, Logan Clemmons, Gage Denny and Rylee Bapst.
“Our guys have been working hard,” said Garrison. “Sometimes they can get a little down on themselves, but we keep working.”
Earlier in the week on Tuesday, April 20, the Eagles enjoyed a run-rule victory over the visiting Sciotoville East Tartans, 13-3.
In that game, the East Tartans scored one run in the first, another in the second and one in the fifth. The hosting Eagles plated four in the first, two in the second, four in the fourth and then three in the bottom of the fifth to bring the contest to an early end.
Senior Jacob Overly pitched for the victory. In five innings, he gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits, while striking out five and walking two. From the plate, Overly was 2-for-2 with three RBIs, two runs and two stolen bases.
Gage Denny led the team in RBIs, collecting four in a 2-for-3 performance that included a double and two runs. Logan Clemmons finished 2-for-3 with a triple, one run, one RBI and a stolen base. Dylan Morton collected two RBIs on a 1-for-3 day that included a run. Lance Barnett was 1-for-3 with three runs and a stolen base. Brayden Webb also went 1-for-3.
The Eagles will take on Valley at home Wednesday evening before going to Waverly Thursday evening.