Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- A late scoring barrage enabled Clay City to pull away from visiting Union to take an baseball victory, 8-3, on Thursday night.
The Eels flexed their muscle to take the initial lead on a three-run home run by Will Kennedy and then strung together four singles, a walk and used a Bulldog error to break open a one-run game late.
"Union is a good ball club," Clay City coach Ryan Swearingen. "(Union coach) Clarence (Johnson) has them playing well."
A shaky defense has cost the Eels more than once this season and Union took advantage of a Clay City error in the first inning.
Logan Chesterfield reached first when his grounder to shortstop was bobbled. Blaine Boyd followed with a double to rightfield, but the relay throw went to Clay City's Ryne Hayes at second, who rifled a throw to the plate to nail Chesterfield trying to score.
Clay City answered quickly in its half as Ryne Hayes reached on a single to centerfield and stole second. Kyle Rhodes hit an infield grounder to third base, but the throw was wild to first base for an error. Kennedy then stepped up and lofted a deep fly ball to centerfield that cleared the wall for a 3-0 Eels' lead.
It's always good to get an early lead," Swearingen said. "The top half of our lineup has been hitting well, we've just got some spots in the bottom that we need to get going."
Both teams settled in over the next couple of innings as Chesterfield struck out three over the next two frames and Clay City pitcher, D.J. Newton, didn't allow a baserunner over the same two innings.
The Eels would add an all-important insurance run in the fourth inning on a single to center by Ben Denker. The liner eluded the diving effort by centerfielder, Wes Marshall.
Denker moved to second on a stolen base before Hayes smacked a sharp grounder down the rightfield line to score Denker and put the Eels ahead 4-1.
Newton got into some trouble in his last inning of work in the fifth inning.
An error allowed Tel Sherman to reach and move to second before Newton struck out Reynolds for the first out. However, Newton walked Jacob Todd before striking out the Bulldogs' leadoff hitter, Chesterfield.
With two outs, Newton was nearly out of the jam, but Blaine Boyd drew a walk to load the bases. Union's No. 3 hitter, Howard, chopped a pitch off the dirt near home plate that stopped halfway between Newton and his catcher, A.J. Evans.
Hayes would field the ball, but his throw to first was wild, allowing both Sherman and Todd to score, narrowing the Eels' advantage to 4-3.
Holding on to that one-run lead, the Eels gave themselves some breathing room using small ball in the sixth inning.
Braxton Griffith singled to left field and Denker followed with an infield single to third base. He moved to second on a stolen base to set up Hayes, who sent a sharp grounder towards second base. The ball eluded Brandon Duncan and dribbled into rightfield and scored both Griffith and Denker for a 6-3 lead.
Howard came in to relieve Chesterfield on the mound and immediately walked Kyler Rhodes before Kennedy lined a shot into leftfield that was dropped for another error. Hayes scored and Tyler Bridgewater capped the scoring with his RBI base hit that gave the Eels an 8-3 bulge.
Hayes came in to finish off the game for Newton on the mound, striking out three and allowing just one hit.
"D.J. (Newton) pitched a good game and Ryne (Hayes) came in and did a good job too," Swearingen said. "We just need to cut down on our errors. They've cost us several games this season."
The Eels are now 4-5 overall, 3-2 in the SWIAC and 2-2 in the TRC and play Saturday at Turkey Run.
At Clay City
2B -- CC (Hayes); Un (Boyd, Howard). HR -- CC (Kennedy).