For the first time since East Hamilton joined District 5-AAA, the baseball team is off to a 3-0 start in league play. The Hurricanes got to that point Monday with a 4-3 come-from-behind home victory over Cleveland.
While controlled by Cleveland 6-foot-7 starting pitcher Patrick Williams, a Lipscomb University signee whose only hit allowed through the first six innings was a bunt single, the Hurricanes scraped things together in their final at-bat down 3-1.
Bradley Garland began a rally with a short and compact swing from the left side to line a single to left center, which was followed by a seeing-eye single up the middle by Blake Hedrick and an infield tapper to no-man's land by Pierce Durham.
While Williams looked to nail the door shut, Jack Stone's weak chopper to third base with two outs and the bases loaded drew a wild throw over the first baseman's head to plate two runs for a walk-off victory on a windy afternoon.
"It feels great to know early in the year you have a group that will fight to the last out," East Hamilton coach Steve Garland said after his team improved to 4-2 overall. "Jackson didn't square his curveball up, but he gave us life. If he had struck out or popped up, that's the ballgame. In a high pressure situation, you want to make them defend."
After a tough finish to Williams' nine-strikeout performance, in which he kept hitters off-balance with off-speed options and spotted his lively fastball, the Blue Raiders (1-2, 0-1) were faced to cope with the harsh reality of the sport.
One in which Yogi Berra put it best, "It ain't over till it's over."
"You have to love the game because anything can happen at any point, whether you hate it or love it," Cleveland coach Preston Scoggins said. "You can't ask for more out of Patrick. He gave all he had to try and go the distance and put us in a great spot to win. But baseball is crazy, wild and fun."
Both starting pitchers gave up unearned runs early as misfielded bunts put runners in position to score.
Cleveland junior Landen Beaty provided a spark for the Blue Raiders, going 3-for-3 with two stolen bases. He drove in two runs in the second inning with a single down the left-field line and added an insurance run off Elvin Vargas' RBI single for a 3-1 lead in the seventh.
East Hamilton senior starter Isaac Moulds allowed no earned runs in five innings of work and struck out eight, which included a span of five straight. The Bryan College signee gave way to sophomore Lipscomb commitment Chase Roberts, who picked up the win.
"We pulled Isaac after 71 pitches, and he didn't want to come out," Coach Garland said. "I love that in a kid — that's what they are supposed to say. I was thrilled by his performance, but we have a plan and want him to be fresh late in the season.
"We were fortunate today, because their pitcher really deserved a better fate. But that's why you play the game."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.