DUBLIN — Visiting East Bladen used a pair of four-run innings and Alex Coates scattered four hits across six innings to lead the eagles to a 9-1 Four County Conference win over West Bladen.
Coates improved his record on the mound to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the conference, earning the win after giving up an unearned run on the four hits, no walks, one hit batter and three strikeouts.
“His changeup and curve have been working well and keeping hitters off balance,” said East Bladen coach Russell Priest. “That’s been the key to his success this season.”
After a scoreless first frame, East Bladen got on the scoreboard with four runs in the top of the second. One-out singles by Ty Watkins and Xavier Wooten were followed by Coates getting hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. Quinton Bedsole laced a two-run single and a pair of fielder’s choices off the bats of Greyson Heustess and Sincere Smith drove in two more runs.
The Eagles added a run in the third when Nikita Owens singled, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch for a 5-0 lead.
The Knights got the run back in the home half when Troy Edge reached on an error, went to second on a wild pitch and continued to third when the throw to second went awry, then scored on a groundout by Jeremy Hunt.
The two teams traded scoreless fourth and fifth innings before East Bladen erupted for four more runs in the sixth. Smith started the uprising with a one-out double and stole third base. After a second out, Kyle Tatum singled home a run and stole second and third base, Owens was hit by a pitch and a wild pitch brought Tatum home. Watkins walked and a throwing error brought Owens home. Wooten singled and another error scored Watkins for a 9-1 lead.
Wooten relieved Coates for the seventh inning and West Bladen started a mild rally with singles by Donald McCullum and Edge sandwiched around a fielder’s choice, but the threat quickly fizzled.
“Our defense has gotten better for us, and that showed tonight,” Priest said. “I’m tickled with how well we are playing, especially with good young players.”
Smith led East Bladen at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, four stolen bases and an RBI. Tatum had two stolen bases and and RBI; Owens had a stolen base; Wooten was 2-for-3; and Bedsole had two RBI.
For West Bladen, McCullum was 2-for-3 while Pridgeon was 1-for-2. Ray Jones, Chandler Lennon and Edge each went 1-for-3. On the hill, Lennon took the loss, going six innings and giving up nine hits, four walks, three hit batters and fanning four. Jones pitched the seventh, giving up a walk, a hit batter and striking out one.