By Wade Linville –
The Eastern Warriors are on top in Southern Hills Athletic Conference Division I standings after recent victories over the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets and the West Union Dragons to up their record to 7-2 in conference play.
“Right now we are playing good baseball,” said Eastern head coach Steve Goetz. “The pitching has been great, the defense has been good, and the offense has been good enough. It’s been great competing and putting ourselves in the middle of the SHAC race.”
The Warriors were at home for their April 21 game against the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets, the leader in SHAC Division II standings.
Starting at the mound for the Warriors in the April 21 conference bout was Kevin Schmid, who has helped provide the Eastern squad with solid pitching throughout the season.
After a scoreless first inning, the Rockets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning with three straight singles coming from Luke Wiederhold, Tyler Kingus, and Caleb Evans.
Junior Zac Smyth started at the mound for Fayetteville, and the Rockets were able to hold the Warriors run-less in the bottom of the second with two batters striking out.
Smyth hammered out a double in the top of the third inning, but Schmid fanned down two batters while forcing the other into a fly out to hold the Rockets run-less in the top of the third.
With a ground out and two batters fanned down, the Warriors failed to bring in a run in the bottom of the third. Entering the fourth inning it was the Rockets hoping to expand on their 1-0 lead, and that they did.
The Rockets scored two runs in the top of the fourth to up their lead to 3-0 with singles coming from Austin Brockman and Kingus in the frame, but the tides would turn when the Warriors came to bat in the bottom of the fourth.
Eastern’s Jacob Diener led off the side with a single, followed by Chase Purdy reaching base on a walk. The Warrior rally continued with Calder Holton cranking out a run-scoring single. Then it was BrandenTomlin and Kevin Schmid blasting back-to-back doubles. A Rocket error would lead to another Eastern run, as the Warriors racked up six runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-3 lead.
The Rockets scored one in the top of the sixth inning to cut the Eastern lead to 6-4, but the Warriors responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 8-5 lead with hits coming from Kevin Schmid and Levi Troutman in the side.
The Rockets capitalized off Eastern errors to score one in the top of the seventh inning, but the Warriors were able to close out the side to secure the three-run victory.
Holton went two-for-four at the bat for the Warriors with two singles.
Tomlin batted two-for-four with a single in the first and a double in the fourth.
Kevin Schmid finished two-for-four at the plate with a double and a single.
Smyth went one-for-three at the plate for the Rockets with a double and a walk.
Fayetteville’s Tay Cal also went one-for-three, swinging for a single and taking a base-on-balls.
Kingus led Rocket hitters in the April 21 bout at Eastern going three-for-four with three singles and reaching base on an error in his final at-bat of the day.
Evans hammered out two singles in four at-bats.
The Warriors fell to the Fairfield Lions 9-8 in a SHAC contest at Eastern on April 24 but rebounded to claim a 9-6 league win over the West Union Dragons while on the road April 25 to up their mark to 7-2 in conference play with just over three SHAC games remaining on their regular season schedule. The Warriors were scheduled to finish the remainder of a league game against Ripley at Eastern High School on April 27 that was postponed earlier in the season due to weather before starting their full home game against the Blue Jays.
The Warriors were scheduled for home game against the West Union Dragons on April 28, and they will cap off SHAC for the season with a May 2 road game against the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs, who stood in second in SHAC Division I standings just one loss behind the Warriors entering the weeks of the regular season play.