It wasn’t the prettiest win for Oak Grove in recent years, as the Warriors gave up seven errors in their 6-5 win over Greene County to start the season.
However, Oak Grove showed much promise as it was able to rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, with Ethan Easterling delivering a one-out, walk-off RBI single to win the game for the Warriors.
“I had been struggling a little bit starting off the game,” Easterling said. “I just came in trying to relax, play the situation, just go up there and be simple with it. I was working with the count and went with it. I finally got my pitch and made some contact. He threw a fastball inside, and I squared it up.”
Oak Grove coach Chris McCardle had complete faith in Easterling, who was 0-for-3 entering the at-bat.
“I challenged them in the top of the seventh to do whatever they have to do to get that one run,” McCardle said. “Easterling had been swinging good in inner squads. He was looking at me for signs thinking that I would give him the bunt sign. I was (saying) we are hitting and had confidence in him. He was calm about it. I knew he was due. He put some good swings on the ball earlier in the game, and it just worked out.”
However, Oak Grove’s fielding seemed to outshine Easterling’s late heroics as Greene County scored all of its runs from errors.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning after shortstop Peyton Peoples, who scored the winning run, made a throwing error to first base.
“With the weather that we have been having, it has kept us off the field with taking infield and taking groundballs,” said Peoples, who finished 3-for-4 with an RBI. “I think we were a little rusty because we had to take off during the week due to that. I think that probably explains some of the errors. I think we’ll get in this week and get it cleaned up for sure.”
Oak Grove answered with two-run RBI single from Caleb Gibson, an RBI double from Foster Mitchell and an error by Greene County to pull ahead 4-2. Peoples added a run for Oak Grove with an RBI single in the fourth inning.
Greene County capitalized off more throwing errors in the sixth inning and tied the game 5-5.
“It’s hard to win when you do that,” McCardle said. “We threw the ball when we shouldn’t have. It’s the first game out, and we haven’t been on the field in a week or two.
“I was proud of them for how they kept fighting and stayed in the game. We had some bad plays. There’s no doubt about it.”
McCardle credited his pitchers J.P. Lyon and Micah Daniell for not allowing Greene County to seize momentum completely. The duo combined to give up five hits and six walks while striking out eight batters.
“We threw too many balls today,” McCardle said. “Both of them did. We got behind some hitters a good little bit. That’s something that’s going to come with time.
“(Greene County) could have got a hit or two and got a lead on us. I knew our guys wouldn’t quit. Once our backs were against the wall, we stepped it up a notch and kept fighting. We made some bad plays, and they had the momentum. Our pitchers got back on the mound and took the momentum right back from them. It kept us in the game. Our biggest concern now is defense. I knew that coming in. they knew that. I think we will get better and better as the year goes on.”