With much more on the line in the near future for both teams, Monday night’s baseball game between the Evans Knights and Harlem Bulldogs turned into a casual affair.
After beating Harlem 16-2 to open the 2013 campaign, the Knights ended their regular season with a 10-0 whitewashing of the Bulldogs in six innings.
The atmosphere more resembled that of a major league spring training game than one of the county’s oldest rivalry at the end of the season. Coming out of spring break, and competing in separate regions, both teams had the bigger picture in mind.
“We played Saturday and had a good game and it was good to get another one under our belts today and start to try to gear up for the region,” said Evans head coach Ricky Beale. “It’s going to be tough.”
The Knights (13-5) open Region 2-AAAAA tournament play Thursday as the No. 2 seedm hosting No. 3 Jones County in a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. Having thrown starters Kyle Anderson, Garrett Wilkinson and Tyler Roberts in a win against South Aiken Saturday, Beale was able to get more work in for Roberts as well as for Andrew Smith, David Rivera and Patrick O’Neal.
“Today was to try to give everybody some innings that might need to come in relief or start if we go to three games (Thursday),” Beale said.
Harlem head coach Jimmie Lewis was more candid about the game, saying the Bulldogs (7-12) just need to prepare for the stretch run in Region 3-AA.
“We’ve got to beat Screven, we’ve got to beat East Laurens, we’ve got to beat Westside and Laney, that’s all that matters,” said Lewis. “This right here – no disrespect to them – they’ve got a good team, but this is glorified practice.”
The Bulldogs finish the week facing Josey at home Wednesday then travel to Screven County Friday with both teams below them in the region standings.
The Knights staff faced two batters over the limit, holding the Bulldogs to just Dalton Green’s single in the second inning. Rivera was especially overpowering recording strikeouts on five of the six batters he faced.
The Knights scored twice in the second to give Smith (1-1) the win, scored five in the fifth and finished it with three in the sixth.