Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Chilly temperatures and Eastern hurler Josh Avoske combined to keep Clay City's bats at bay in a Southwestern Indiana Conference tilt on Thursday night.
The visiting Thunderbirds scored a pair of runs in both the third and fourth innings and Avoske stranded eight runners on base to take a 4-3 win for Eastern.
"We just couldn't get our bats going," commented coach Ryan Swearingen. "D.J. (Newton) pitched a good game. I thought he did an excellent job pitching in his first varsity game."
Newton limited Eastern to just five hits in the game, but the T-Birds were opportunistic in their offensive chances.
After Newton got through the first two innings unscathed, Eastern leadoff the third inning with a line single to right field by No. 9 hitter, Cody Sparks.
Eric McArtor moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt and Avoske helped his own cause with a sharp single off third baseman Tyler Bridgewater.
Avoske stole second base and then came home on an RBI single by Orry Miller.
Clay City would get one run back in the bottom half of the frame on a single by Bridgewater and an error by Eastern's Nick Schultz in rightfield.
Will Kennedy shot a high popup into rightfield and Shultz misplayed the ball, letting it drop. Bridgewater came around to score on the error.
A defensive lapse would come back to haunt the Eels in the next inning.
Sawyer Miller reached first on an error by Ryne Hayes and after a sacrifice bunt by Shultz, Sparks came through with a two-out RBI double.
Brian Boyer added the all-important winning run by shooting a single to rightfield to take a 4-1 lead.
"We made some mistakes and they cost us," commented Swearingen. "They took advantage of their base runners and we didn't."
Clay City climbed back into the game in the bottom half of the fourth inning with a pair of scores.
Hayes lead off with a walk and after Avoske got the next two batters, Ben Dickey walked before A.J. Evans blasted a two-run double to centerfield.
Trailing 4-3, the Eels would place Kyler Rhodes in scoring position in the next inning after a two-out double and a walk to Hayes, but Avoske got Newton to pop out to end the threat.
Eastern brought Ryan Wilcoxen in the final two innings to record the save, allowing just a single to Dickey and recording three strikeouts.
Newton went the distance for the Eels, allowing five hits and four walks while striking out five.
The Eels (1-1 overall, 0-1 SWIAC) travel to Sullivan for a 12:30 p.m. start on Saturday.
At Clay City
2B -- E (Sparks, Boyer), CC (Evans, Rhodes). SB -- E (Avoske), CC (Bridgewater).
Sac -- E (Shultz, McArtor).
|Newton L (0-1)||7.0||4||5||4||5|
Next game: Clay City (1-1 overall, 0-1 SWIAC) travels to Sullivan on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.