COVINGTON - The Franklin County Lions, winless in Region 8-AAA play prior to Friday night, came calling on Eastside and conquered blustery conditions and the Eagles 5-2, before the storms hit the Covington area.
Racing against the inclement weather, a pitching duel ensued between Garrett South of Franklin County and Eastside's Jason Digby. South managed to pitch almost the entire game before giving way to Cody Pritchett in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. Pritchett managed to get the final out on a hard hit ball to right field by Eastside's Hunter Parker, who represented the tying run since the Eagles had runners on first and third and had already plated a determined Jake Casteel.
"This was a tough loss for us," Eastside's third-year head coach Michael Poor said. "Franklin County played real well, they just outplayed us tonight. But we're a scrappy team and kept the pressure on them until the end."
Franklin County held a slight 1-0 lead through three innings with the Lions' only run coming in the top of the second. Digby had sporadic control problems and hit the Lions' leadoff batter, Marcus Kelly, who then stole second and later scored on a bloop single that fell just past the reach of Eagle third baseman Casteel.
Eastside squandered a chance to even the score in the bottom of the third when senior second baseman Keaton Anglin was thrown out at home plate when he attempted to score from second base on a sharp line-drive hit to left field by centerfielder Git Aiken. Aiken was then stranded at second when Franklin County's steady pitcher South got Tim Roton to ground out to the shortstop to end the inning.
Franklin County opened up a 4-0 lead with three runs in the top of the fourth when South started the inning with a double to the leftfield gap. He was relieved of his running duties by Alex Swider, who later scored on an error by Casteel on a hard-hit ground ball. Digby then balked in a run, and the third and final run of the inning came when Pritchett, at that time playing second base for Franklin County, smashed a double.
Digby was relieved by junior Jerome Ivey, who got the final out of the fourth inning and then held Franklin County scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings. The defensive highlight of the game was a double play turned by Eastside in the bottom of the fifth on a ground ball to shortstop Travis Marks, who flipped to Anglin, who then fired the ball to Eagles first baseman Randy Loew. Ivey got two of the three outs in the bottom of the sixth with strikeouts.
Eastside finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when rightfielder Roton led off with a double to the left field gap. He then scored on another double to the same spot by Parker. At that point, it looked like the Eagles may break loose for a big inning but South quelled the rally by retiring the next three batters.
Franklin County added its fifth run in the top of seventh as large raindrops fell from a darkened sky. Eastside fought back in its last at bat with a hard-earned run by Casteel when he got on base after being hit by a pitch. He stole second and scored on a wild pitch after being moved over to third on a fielder's choice by freshman Jake Gresham. The Eagles got two more base runners when leftfielder Seth Allen reached first after being hit by a pitch and was then moved over to third on a single by Roton. Both runners were stranded on the final out.
The loss drops Eastside's record to 5-9 for the season and the Eagles play again Tuesday evening when they host Oconee County.