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CERRO GORDO – Senior Zach Meares pitched a no-hitter and struck out 13 batters in 5 innings as East Bladen rolled to a 14-0 Three Rivers Conference baseball victory over West Columbus Thursday night.

Meares struck out 7 of the 1st 8 batters that he faced before Ethan Brown drew a 2-out walk in the 3rd inning. Senior Austin Booth reached on an error that placed runners at 1st and 3rd bases before a groundout ended the inning.

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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

With the Eagles ahead 10-0, the no-hitter and a base-running mishap by Meares provided the only remaining excitement in the outcome. Meares struck out the side in the 4th but did issue his 2nd walk of the game.

Meares injured his ankle running the bases in the top of the 5th but bounced back to strike out 3 straight batters in the bottom of the inning.

“I tried to stop and I kind of rolled it a little,” said Meares. “Some ice will take care of it.” As far as his performance on the mound, he credited his heater saying, “My curveball was ok, but I relied mostly on fastballs tonight.”

The Eagle offense exploded for 8 runs in the 2nd inning. Seniors Brady Hollingsworth and Jacob Priest lined singles to rightfield to ignite the rally. Senior Drew Sholar raked a single through the left side to load the bases.

Junior Raymond Autry walked to force home Coleman Tatum, the courtesy runner for Hollingsworth, and senior Rasean McKoy’s fielder’s choice plated Priest. McKoy stole 2nd base, and the catcher’s throw skipped into centerfield allowing Sholar to dart home. Meares was hit by a pitch, and junior Ethan Johnson walked.

Senior Lefredrick Wooten reached base on a passed 3rd strike, and McKoy dashed home on the passed ball. A throwing error on the play allowed Meares to score. A throwing error on Hollingsworth’s grounder scored Johnson and Wooten. Priest drilled a single to right that scored Hollingsworth and pushed the lead to 8-0.

Hollingsworth drew a 1-out walk in the Eagle 4th inning, and Priest ripped a single to left. A throwing error on the play allowed both runners to move up a base. Sholar knocked in both runners with a seeing-eye single through the left side that padded the lead to 10-0.

Meares walked to start the Eagle 5th inning, and Tatum and Wooten ripped singles to left. Hollingsworth drew a bases-loaded walk that forced home Meares. Priest and Sholar launched sacrifice flies to leftfield that scored Tatum and Wooten.

After senior Tyler Hill and Autry drew walks, senior Grayson Clark laced a single to left-center that scored Hollingsworth for the final 14-0 margin.

Priest finished a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with 2 runs batted in and 2 runs scored, and Sholar batted 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and a run scored to lead East Bladen’s 11-hit attack.

“We are taking better swings, and our approach at the plate is a lot better than it was,” said Eagle Coach Grant Pait. “Our defense is playing better – had only the 1 error tonight.”

Meares, Hollingsworth, Wooten, Tatum, Clark and McKoy connected for 1 hit each for East Bladen. Clark, McKoy, Autry, Wooten and Hollingsworth drove in 1 run each. Hollingsworth scored 3 runs, Meares, Wooten and Tatum scored 2 runs each, and McKoy and Johnson scored 1 run each.

The Eagles remain atop the TRC with a 4-0 record and are 7-3 overall. East Bladen will travel to Fairmont Friday night for a 7 o’clock game. “It’s very important that we play the game in front of us and keep our focus on that game,” Pait said.


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