Eagles take third place with win over Gray’s Creek

FAYETTEVILLE — East Bladen survived a late Gray’s Creek rally try on Tuesday and beat the Bears 7-4 in the third-place game of the J. Hoyt Warren/Wayne Edwards Invitational baseball tournament played at Douglas Byrd High.

The win improved the Eagles to 7-3 overall.

East Bladen wasted no time jumping all over Gray’s Creek, batting around and scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Sincere Smith and Kyle Tatum sandwiched walks around an out before Smith stole third base and scored on Nikita Owens’ groundout. Tatum, who stole second base, was joined on the bases when Ty Watkins was walked and the bases were filled with Eagles when Xavier Wooten was hit by a pitch.

Alex Coates dribbled an RBI, infield hit to score Tatum and Watkins scored on a single by Quinton Bedsole for a 3-0 lead.

East Bladen increased the lead to 4-0 with a run in the second inning when Smith singled to left and, after an out, Tatum reached on an infield single and an error on the play put runners at the corners. Owens smacked a groundout that scored Smith.

The Eagles’ advantage grew to 5-0 in the third inning when Coates led off with a long double to left and, two outs later, he scored on a throwing error.

The Bears began to growl in the top of the fifth frame and plated three runs fueled by an East Bladen error to pull within 5-3.

But the Eagles answered with a pair of runs in the home half of the fifth when Bedsole was plunked by a pitch, Greyson Hustess singled, Smith laced a single that loaded the bases and Devan Stocks lofted a sacrifice fly that scored Bedsole. Tatum then rocketed an RBI double to left that gave East Bladen a 7-3 advantage.

Gray’s Creek put two runners in scoring position in the sixth with just one out, but the rally fizzled with two strikeouts.

In the seventh inning, the Bears did break through with a run and had the bases loaded with one out when a line drive was snared by Bedsole at second base, who then stepped on the bag for a double play that ended the comeback effort and the game.

Tatum led the Eagles at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double and RBI; Coates was 2-for-4 with a double and RBI; and Smith went 2-for-3. Owens had two RBI for East Bladen, while Bedsole and Stocks each had one RBI.

Watkins earned the win on the hill for the Eagles, going four innings and giving up two hits, two walks and fanning two. Stocks pitched a portion of the fifth frame before Wooten came on to finish the game, earning his first save of the season with three innings of work. He gave up three hits, two walks and struck out four.

The Eagles return to Four County Conference action on Tuesday when they travel to face Union at 7 p.m.

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