Eagles Earn Ugly Season Split Over FCHS

RWA’s Austin Knox lifts a high fly ball deep into right for the first out in the second inning Monday. (Photo/Martha Ladd)

WINNSBORO – Three outs is all it takes to retire the side in baseball. Give a team more than that and you’ve got trouble.

Monday night, the Griffins had trouble.

Ten Fairfield Central errors led to no fewer than seven Eagle runs as Richard Winn Academy held off the Griffins 13-10 at Fairfield Central, splitting the season series at two games apiece. The Eagles gave up their share of freebies as well. While committing only two errors, the RWA pitching staff was less than stellar as they head into postseason play next Monday, walking six Griffins and giving up first base five times on hit batters – three of which were Chris Raley.

Jason Branham earned the win for the Eagles, coming on in relief in the fourth. Branham worked 1.2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, a walk and a strikeout. Cameron Cooper was lights out in the two-inning save, striking out five Griffins and giving up nothing but goose eggs across the board.

Brandon Adams was touched for the loss, working just 2.2 innings for the Griffins. Adams gave up 3 hits while walking four, striking out four and plunking Blake Pauley in the first. Adams gave up 7 runs, but only one of those was earned as his infield committed 6 errors behind him. Four of those errors ultimately resulted in RWA runs, as did two of his walks. Markell Whitaker came on with two outs in the third and retired Conrad Sharpe on one pitch as Sharpe lined a grounder back to the mound for the 1-3 putout. Whitaker went the rest of the way for the Griffins, who are also headed for the postseason next week. Whitaker gave up 5 hits, a walk and a strikeout. Three of his 5 runs were earned, as the walk and three Griffin errors proved costly.

The Eagles plated a pair in the top of the first after Matt Taylor and Austin Knox both reached on infield errors with one out. After Adams retired Sharpe on a 1-3 putout, Cooper reached on another infield error to load the bags. Pauley then took a 1-0 pitch in the shoulder blades to bring in Taylor, and John Coleman drew a walk to bring in Knox. The Griffins got one of those runs back in the bottom half when Stanley McManus drove in Javaris Cook, who had reached on a leadoff single.

The Eagles pushed across three more in the top of the second when Sharpe’s four-pitch walk with the bases loaded brought in Branham, who had led off the inning with a walk. Cooper then belted a single into the outfield, bringing home Patrick Pope, who had reached on an infield error, and Taylor, who had reached on a bunt single.

RWA tacked on two more in the top of the third when Knox drove in Hampton Caughman, who had led off the inning with a walk, and Taylor – who had reached on an outfield error – came in to score on an infield error, giving the Eagles a 7-1 lead. But in the third, the Griffins sent 10 men to the plate as Tucker’s tank ran to empty. The Eagle righty gave up three walks and hit a batter before being lifted for Pauley. McManus’s leadoff walk went for naught when he was thrown out by from right field while advancing to second on Jarvis Kennedy’s single. Chris Boyd drew a walk and Raley, hit by a pitch in his second consecutive at bat, loaded the bags for Tavaris Cook. Cook earned a walk, bringing in Kennedy. Boyd came around when Adams was also struck by a pitch, and Raley scored on a Javaris Cook walk. Tavaris Cook came in on Compton Walker’s single, and the Griffins were back in the ball game, now trailing 7-5.

The Eagles stretched their lead to 8-5 in the top of the fourth when Coleman, who reached on a 2-out infield error, stole second and later scored on another infield miscue. But in the bottom half, the unearned run pendulum would swing back in the Griffins’ favor as Fairfield Central loaded the bases with one out on an error, a walk and Raley’s third hit-by-pitch. Dalton Truesdale, pinch-hitting for Adams, drove a sharp grounder down the third-base line. Caughman picked the fireball out of the dust and fired home, erasing Boyd on the force out. Jaylen Davis, pinch-hitting for Akeem Foster, drew a 2-out walk, bringing in Raley and keeping the bags juiced for Javaris Cook. Cook drove the first pitch he saw into the outfield for a 2RBI single. Walker followed with an RBI single of his own to give the Griffins a 9-8 lead.

Whitaker faced only five batters in the fifth, his best inning of work on the night, and the Griffins added to their lead in the bottom half with back-to-back doubles from Kennedy and Boyd. Trailing 10-8, the Eagles showed a little life of their own in the sixth. Coleman reached on a 1-out walk and Caughman followed with a single. Mason Gibbons then belted a long fly ball to deep center field. Javaris Cook gave chase, and for a moment it looked as if the park would not hold it. But the screamer smashed into the center field fence and Gibbons raced to third with a 2RBI triple to tie the game. Pope then sent a pop fly into shallow left, not very deep, but deep enough for Gibbons to challenge the arm of Raley and score the go-ahead run on the sacrifice fly. Taylor made it 12-10, reaching on a single, stealing second and scoring on an error. The Eagles added one more in the top of the seventh when Coleman, who reached on a 2-out infield error, came in on a double-steal.

Cooper slammed the door on the Griffins in the sixth and seventh, facing four batters and striking out the side in the sixth, and retiring the Griffins in order in the seventh, fanning the first and last Griffin of the inning.

RW – 2 3 2 1 0 4 1 13 8 2

FC – 1 0 4 4 1 0 0 10 8 10

WP: Jason Branham (RW). LP: Brandon Adams. S: Cameron Cooper (RW).

RW: Elijah Tucker—2.1, 3H, 5R, 2ER, 4BB, 3K, 3HB. Blake Pauley—1, 1H, 3R, 0ER, 1BB, 3K, 2HB. Jason Branham—1.2, 4H, 2R, 1ER, 1BB, 1K. Cameron Cooper—2, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 5K. FC: Brandon Adams—2.2, 3H, 7R, 1ER, 4BB, 4K, 1HB. Markell Whitaker—4.1, 5H, 5R, 3ER, 1BB, 1K, 1BK.

2B: Jarvis Kennedy (FC). 3B: Mason Gibbons (RW). LOB: RW—11. FC—11.

Time of Game: 2:36

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