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East Bladen High School

Sophmore shortstop Sincere Smith started double plays in each of the last 2 innings as East Bladen held on for a key 8-5 Four County Conference victory over Clinton at East Monday night.

The victory stretches the first-place Eagles lead over Clinton to 2.5 games with only 4 games remaining. Coach Russell Priest’s Eagles are now 10-0 in the league and 14-3 overall.

East Bladen led 8-4 after 5 innings, but Trey Warren greeted Eagle relief pitcher Xavier Wooten with an opposite-field double to start the sixth. After Charles Jordan was safe on a fielder’s choice, Bailey Spell knocked in Warren with a single to center field.

With the tying run at the plate, Wooten regrouped to strikeout Zack Parker. Smith speared Jonathan Wright’s grounder, beat Spell to the bag at second and gunned a strike to first baseman Ty Watkins to retire Wright and complete the double play.

A pair of Eagle errors began the seventh inning, but sophmore second baseman Quinton Bedsole ran down an errant pick-off attempt behind second and fired the ball to third baseman Deondre Newkirk to cut down the Dark Horse runner at third base.

The next batter hit a high bouncer that Smith grabbed at the second base bag and threw to Watkins to complete a game-ending double play.

Eagle senior Alex Coates pitched the first five innings to pick up the win and raise his record to 9-1. Coates allowed 4 runs – 2 earned – on 7 hits, and 4 walks while striking out four.

Wooten worked the final 2 innings on the hill for East and allowed a run on 2 hits and a walk while striking out one.

The Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the first as Bedsole walked and moved up on a wild pitch. Junior Kyle Tatum reached base on a dropped third strike then stole second base. After a walk to senior Nikita Owens, Watkins ripped a single to right that scored Bedsole and Tatum.

An error, a bloop double by Skyler Cannady and Warren’s 2-run seeing-eye single to right tied the score. Warren scored on Zack Parker’s infield hit to vault Clinton on top 3-2 in the top of the second.

The Eagles pulled even in the home second. McGill reached base on a throwing error, and Smith launched a towering single that dropped when the Clinton center fielder fell down. Tatum was hit by a pitch, and Owens walked to force home McGill with the tying run.

Wright hammered a double into the left field corner to start the Dark Horse third. Wright moved up on an infield out and scored on Logan Spell’s infield hit to edge Clinton ahead 4-3.

Wooten raked a single through the left side to begin the East third inning. Wooten was caught in a run-down on a pick-off attempt but escaped with a slide into second base then went to third as the throw skipped into left field. Coates lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that drove in Wooten with the tying run.

Smith beat out a lead-off infield hit in the Eagle fourth. Bedsole was hit by a pitch, and Tatum and Owens drew walks to force home Smith. Wooten was hit by a pitch to force in Bedsole, and Coates poled another sacrifice fly that plated Tatum for a 7-4 East lead.

McGill drew a lead-off walk in the Eagle fifth and raced to third base when Bedsole belted a single to leftfield. When Bedsole stole second base, the throw sailed into center field allowing McGill to dash home and stretch the East lead to 8-4.

Watkins batted 2-4 with 2 runs batted in to lead the Eagle hitters. Smith finished 2-4 at the plate with a run scored. Bedsole and Wooten added one hit each. Bedsole, Tatum and Wooten scored 2 runs each, and Wooten scored one.

Coates and Owens drove in 2 runs each, and Wooten knocked in one.

Bailey Spell pitched 4-plus innings for Clinton and was charged with all 8 runs. Parker and Logan Spell worked one inning of relief each.

Warren batted 2-3 with a double, 2 rbi’s and 2 runs scored to lead the Dark Horse hitters. Wright and Cannady were both 2-4 with a double and a run scored each.

East Bladen will host Heide Trask Tuesday night and an Eagle victory would clinch a tie for the conference championship.

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