Times Sports Editor
The Clay City Eels took advantage of three first inning errors to score early and junior Ryne Hayes shutdown the Northview Knights to score the school's first win against the Knights in six attempts, 8-2.
Hayes struckout 13 Northview batters while going the distance and held the Knights to just two hits.
Coach Ryan Swearingen was quick to point out the importance of a season opening victory for his Eels following the game.
"This is a big win for us," said Swearingen. "Anytime you can beat a 4A school that's pretty big."
"Clay City played pretty well tonight," said Northview coach Gary Witham.
Perhaps even more important to the Eels' coach is the fact that his team played well on opening night regardless of the opponent.
"This feels good. We usually get off to a slow start during the season so hopefully this can jump start us."
The Eels got themselves jumpstarted in the first inning against the Knights, turning a leadoff single by Ben Dickey, a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Bridgewater and three errors into a quick 3-0 lead.
Northview scratched out single runs in the second and third innings to narrow the gap, but couldn't mount a successful rally.
Nick Lancaster was hit by a pitch between strikeouts by Cody Crooks and Brock Lawson and would eventually come around to score on an error and a wild pitch.
Hayes got even more insurance in the third inning when A.J. Evans drew a leadoff walk against Northview starter Curtis Peters.
Bridgewater singled to centerfield to move Evans to third and following a stolen base before Matt Vansickle drilled a two-run single to push the lead to 5-2 after three innings.
"Anytime you can get ahead early is important," said Swearingen. "I was pleased with the way we hit the ball. I'm proud of the guys and how we came out."
The second run for the Knights came in the bottom half of the frame as Keaton Robertson reached on an error and Kyle Pestoff reached on one of Hayes' six hit batters. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Robertson scored on another errant pitch.
Hayes was able to extricate himself from trouble via the strikeout as he sent Lawson and Dylan Kruse back to the bench to end the inning.
"Hayes pitched pretty well," said Witham of the Eels' starter. "He was a little wild, but just wild enough to be effective."
On the other hand however, Witham was quick to point out his team's problems against the Eels.
"Our hitting and defense were awful," stated Witham. "When you don't get many hits you don't make their defense work. We got behind early and couldn't run or bunt. It just wasn't a very good performance."
Hayes continued to battle his way out of trouble in the home half of the fourth inning when walks to Scotty Wheeler and Ryne Barr set up a potential one out rally.
Pestoff, the Knights' cleanup hitter, stepped to the plate and laced a solid shot up the middle, but the ball was snagged, and originally appeared to have been dropped, but eventually turned into an inning ending double play.
Umpires ruled the ball was dropped in the process of being thrown to second and Barr was doubled off to end threat.
Northview had runners on in the fifth and sixth innings, but Hayes got out of trouble with a strikeout of pinch hitter Zac Niehaus in the fifth and Keaton Robertson lined into a double play to cap the sixth frame.
Clay City added some insurance runs in the seventh inning with an RBI groundout by Kyler Rhodes and a two-run double by D.J. Newton that scored Will Kennedy and Vansickle.
Hayes wrapped up his victory by striking out Lawson on his 147th pitch of the game.
"I had to beg to stay in there the last few innings," said Hayes with a smile. "But I was so pumped the whole game."
When asked what effect his leading Clay City to the school's first baseball win against Northview might have, Hayes jokingly replied, "I hope it makes me a legend."
Hayes allowed two runs on two hits while striking out 11 and walking five to pick up the victory.
The Eels will play host to Eastern on Thursday night at 4:30 p.m. while Northview travels to Martinsville on Friday night for a 5 p.m. start.
2B -- CC (Dickey).
|Peters L (0-1)||3.0||5||3||1||3|
|Hayes W (1-0)||7.0||2||2||5||13|