DUBLIN — West Bladen overcame four errors and a number of base-running miscues, scoring in every inning to knock off visiting East Bladen in the Four County Conference regular-season finale Thursday, 16-9.
The win pushes the Knights to 13-9 overall and 11-3 in the conference — tied for second place with the Eagles, who fell to 13-6 and 11-3.
Neither team showed any stellar pitching, as both starters — Caleb Sholar (five innings) for West Bladen and Xavier Wooten (3.2 innings) for East Bladen, gave up nine runs. Combined, the two hurlers walked 12 batters and hit four. In relief, Sincere SMith worked the final 2.1 innings for the Eagles and gave up seven runs on seven hits, four walks and two strikeouts. For the Knights, however, Trey Storms came on for the Knights and pitched two innings, giving up just two hits and striking out three.
East Bladen opened the game with a run in the top of the first when Shy Pone walked and Smith was hit by a pitch. After Pone was picked off second, Smith stole second and third and, when the throw went awry, he scampered home.
West Bladen answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning when Jarrett Williams and Trent West walked ahead of Scott Bowen’s two-run triple to the fence in right-center for a 2-1 edge.
The Eagles fought right back, scoring two in the top of the second after two outs. Brooks McGill singled, but was erased on a double play. Dan Tatum and Deondre Newkirk each singled and Pone walked to load the bases ahead of Smith’s two-run single up the middle for a 3-2 lead.
The Knights regained the lead with a pair of runs in the home half when Sholar doubled, Jake Butler and Hunter Pait each walked to fill the bags and Weston Pidgeon worked a walk for the first run. After a fielder’s choice, Williams lofted a fly ball for the second run and a 4-3 lead.
After holding East Bladen scoreless in the top of the third, West Bladen plated three runs in the bottom of the inning behind a single by Bowen and Logan West, who was out trying to stretch the hit into a double, a walk to Sholar and, with two outs, Bowen scored on a wild pitch and, moments later, after a walk to Pait, Pidgeon ripped a two-run double to right and gave the Knights a 7-3 lead.
East Bladen responded with two runs in the top of the fourth when Tatum reached on an error and, when the throw sailed, he advanced to second. Newkirk reached on a bunt single and wild pitches helped bring both runners home, closing the gap to 7-5.
West Bladen got both runs back in the bottom of the inning behind a single from Trent West, who advanced on a wild pitch, a run-scoring single by Bowen and an RBI single by Logan West to give the Knights a 9-5 edge.
A pair of West Bladen errors helped the Eagles score three runs in the fifth to close the deficit to 9-8. Tatum had a sacrifice fly RBI, Newkirk reached on an error for another run and Pone had a run-scoring single.
But the Knights batted around in the home half of the fifth and scored four two-out runs. Pait and Pidgeon opened the inning with singles and, after two quick outs, both runners came around to score on wild pitches. Trent West and Bowen followed with walks, Logan West drilled a run-scoring single and Bowen scored on a passed ball for a 13-8 advantage.
The Eagles scored once in the sixth when Kyle Tatum led off with a walk and, after two outs, came around to score on a wild pitch and RBI triple by McGill to deep left-center.
West Bladen put the game away with three runs in the bottom of the sixth when Pidgeon waled with one out and, after the second out, Williams singled and Trent West laced an RBI single. Bowen followed with an RBI single and a throwing error on the play brought the third run home for a 16-9 lead.
East Bladen went quietly in the seventh.
“We just didn’t have it tonight,” said East Bladen coach Russell Priest. “We had a chance to tie for the conference title and just didn’t play well.”
For the Eagles, Pone was 2-for-3 with an RBI; McGill was 2-for-3 with a triple and RBI; and Newkirk was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Dan Tatum was 1-for-3 with an RBI and Smith was 1-for-3 with two RBI.
“That was a pitcher’s battle,” West Bladen coach Kim Cain said jokingly. “Scott (Bowen) hit the ball real well — this was just a good win for us.”
Bowen was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with a triple and four RBI. Logan West was 3-for-5 with two RBI; Pidgeon was 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI; Trent West was 2-for-3 with an RBI; Sholar was 2-for-2 with a double; Williams was 1-for-3 with an RBI; and Pait was 1-for-2.
Both the Eagles and Knights are now awaiting their playoff matchups — both are expected to open the Class 2-A playoffs with a home game.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.