East Hamilton's hitters were perplexed but relieved after Monday's 4-3 baseball win over Red Bank. They were still puzzled after getting just four hits Tuesday but left Red Bank feeling pretty good after adding a 7-1 victory over the Lions.
It was a pivotal sweep for the Hurricanes, who positioned themselves nicely to win the District 6-AA championship. Although they entered the night tied with Central with 8-1 district records, the Hurricanes hold the tiebreaker against the Purple Pounders.
East Hamilton will be heavily favored in its remaining series against Tyner and Brainerd.
Red Bank still has a series remaining with Central in two weeks, and coach Trey Hicks will try to solve the Lions' hitting and pitching woes. They took care of the defense after Monday's seven-error performance, but the pitching lapsed and they got just two hits off the East Hamilton combination of Chris Moore and Matty Henshaw.
Moore went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and one run (unearned), and Henshaw got the last four outs without giving up a hit.
"Thank goodness for good pitching," East Hamilton coach Steve Garland said after his club committed five errors.
The Hurricanes scored all of their runs in the second inning on five walks, three hit batsmen and two hits.
"We took advantage of what they gave," Garland said. "It was an outstanding pitching performance by Chris Moore and Matty, and their guy, who's a good pitcher, struggled."
Lions starter Gage Winton faced four batters in the first inning but then struggled mightily with his control, and when he did flirt with the corners he couldn't get the call he wanted badly. He retired just one batter while walking four and hitting two and giving up a two-run single to Patrick Parris before being lifted.
"Gage was 4-0 going in. He just had a tough night," Hicks offered. "We fought back. We had baserunners. We just didn't get the big hit at the right time."
The Lions left two runners on in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings and were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Garland wasn't overly concerned with the lack of defense or hitting, although he did say both were issues that would be addressed in practice.
"Our approach is to try and not do too much and stick with what we've done. We have hit the ball pretty well this year," he said. "We played a lot of games over the weekend and then we had two tough games with these guys. This was a win we needed to get, and I'm proud of the guys for getting it."