The Eads team continues to have growing pains as Chad Rouse’s young group has struggled with undependable weather tantrums, inexperienced players, and some fairly major illness that has combined to challenge the young Eagles.
They continue to battle, however, as they managed to get on the field last Tuesday afternoon for an extra-innings classic that saw Eads lose the game, 9-6, in the top of the 8th inning on errors. “Unfortunately, those will happen when you’re young,” philosophized Coach Rouse. “But I’m pretty happy at the way we continue to improve and I still think we’ll cause some noise by the end of the season.”
Freshman lefty, Brigden Parker, continues to get stronger each week from the mound as he went four complete innings and had the lead 4-1 giving up just 2 hits and striking out 7. The 9th grader did not walk a single batter and efficiently used his pitch count through the four innings. Coach Rouse would like to continue to improve his efficiency as the stringent CHSAA pitching rules require it. Overall, however, Parker has been tough for opposing batters to gain any advantage off of.
Eads would use three other throwers in the 8 inning game including senior Trey McDowell who was also effective giving up 2 earned runs on one hit, one walk, and two strike outs. Rouse also used freshman Brandon Lening who is accurate but will need to work on his speed to compete at the high school level. Lening would give up five earned runs on 5 hits, but he did strike out three batters. T.J. Conaway also had to go an inning for Eads as he efficiently gave up one run, one walk, and struck out three. Lening was credited with the loss.
Offensively, Zach Haase, lead off Eagle batter, had a solid day as he walked once, was hit by pitch, and got one hit. When the senior gets on the base pads, watch out, as he makes life very difficult for pitchers and catchers, alike. This game was no exception as he had 5 stolen bases in the game. Conaway, Hatch Nelson, and Aiden Michael each committed one theft, as well. Haase scored two runs, as did Nelson who walked once and got one hit. McDowell scored one run with one hit, and Conaway scored once with one hit.
Eads jumped out in the first inning when they scored 4 runs. Haase walked to start the at-bat and Nelson did the same. Haase would steal third. McDowell would strike out but advanced to first on a wild third-strike pitch that scored Haase from third. David Arnold then walked to juice the bases. During Conaway’s at bat, McDowell would score on a wild pitch and Arnold advanced to third. Conaway would then walk and steal second base during Aiden Michael’s at bat that would result in a strike out. Lening then laid down a sac bunt that caught Arnold trying to score at home. Conaway would score with Joe Haase batting after a wild pitch.
After Parker left the mound, Stratton-Liberty came roaring back and got some hard hits to the outfield where freshmen Joe Haase and Amber Kopasz were kept very busy. Stratton would take the lead 5-4 after the top of the fifth inning and then added another run in the top of the seventh. It was do-or-die for Eads in the bottom of the 7th inning with Eads trailing by two runs, 6-4. Kopasz grounded out to start the at-bat, but Haase came through with a big single to right field. Nelson then singled, as well, moving the speedy Haase to third base. McDowell would bring in Haase on a fielder’s choice-out at first. The hit moved Nelson to third. Arnold then walked as Nelson, representing the tying run, remained at third base. It would be Conaway who came through big with a single to left field that scored Nelson from third. Arnold advanced to third and Conaway was standing on second base….and Eads was alive in the game, 6-6. However, Lening would ground out to leave the game tied after regulation.
Stratton-Liberty’s Lichty then scored off a single and error in left field to take the lead back for Stratton. The Knighted Eagles continued to pick on the outfield as they would score twice more off of errors. Conaway would then take matters into his own hands and strike out the next three batters to stop the bleeding.
In the bottom of the 8th Eads showed they still had some fire as Joe Haase reached on an error and with two outs Nelson did the same. With runners at first and second McDowell would represent the tying run at the plate, and the senior ripped a bullet down the third base line that was nabbed on a fluke by the third baseman allowing him to force out Joe Haase at third.
Despite this heart-breaker of a loss, Eads continues to get better and has a new player who will soon be able to see the field in freshman Damien Barnes. It will take everyone to pick up their own individual games, but there is still time to improve as Eads moves toward May.