Wanting an opportunity to get his pitchers work before their Region 2-AAAAA opening series against Jones County on Thursday, Evans High School baseball coach Ricky Beale wore a base path to the mound.
Facing South Aiken on Saturday, Beale sent five hurlers to the mound – three in the seventh inning – as the Knights fell 13-8.
Starting his fourth inning of work in the top of the seventh, senior lefty Garrett Wilkinson was in line for the win with the Knights leading 8-4. To that point, Wilkinson had held the Thoroughbreds (7-8) scoreless on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Wilkinson (4-3) would take the loss after surrending a leadoff double to start the seventh, followed by walks to three of the next four batters and an infield single.
Hunter Morris relieved Wilkinson, with the next three batters driving in runs on a groundout, an error, and a single. Following another single, that would be all for Morris.
Up next, David Rivera gave up a run-scoring single and a two-run double before the final out of the inning was recorded.
“You hope you can close it out there in the seventh,” said Knights’ head coach Ricky Beale.
“They’re chasing four (pitchers) and we didn’t make a couple of plays here and there and gave some freebies up and they took advantage of it.”
Dominick Panzella and Wilkinson walked to start the bottom of the seventh, but the Thoroughbreds were able to close it out unscathed.
Junior Kyle Anderson was first on the hill for the Knights (12-8) and Beale hoped to get him a few innngs of work. Anderson threw 29 pitches, almost reaching his pitch count, and Beale decided that was enough.
The Thoroughbreds touched Anderson for two runs, but the Knights got them back in the bottom half of the inning. Wilkinson reached on catcher’s interference with Anderson and Colin Dominy getting two-out walks before Brice Harrison knocked in a run after getting hit by a pitch. Connor Murray got the first of his three hits for the day, singling in the early-game equalizer.
Beale and the Knights also got a boost in the first inning when Matt Anderson, who missed the last month of games with an injury, stepped to the plate as the designated hitter. He would finish the game going one for three with two walks and an RBI.
“Getting Matt back in the lineup is definitely a plus for us,” Beale said.
Hunter Dollander took over on the hill for Anderson in the second inning and allowed one run on four hits in two innings of work.
With the Knights trailing 3-2, the Knights struck for four runs in the bottom of the fourth with Wilkinson singling in two and Matt Anderson singling in another.
Up 6-4, the Knights appeared to have salted the game away when Alec Watts singled in two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth.
South Aiken 201 001 9 – 13 15 2
Evans 200 420 0 – 08 07 3
Cameron Meares, Bowen Smith (2), Josh Kiser (4), Reese Willis (5), Garrett Dragano (5), Alex Mills (7) and Stokes Griffith. Kyle Anderson, Hunter Dollander (2), Garrett Wilkinson (4), Hunter Morris (7), David Rivera (7) and Brice Harrison. WP–Dragano (1-1). LP–Wilkinson (4-3)
2B-Kiser (SA) 2, Alex Mills (SA) 2, Preston Dawson (SA). Leading hitters: South Aiken–Mills 3-4 2 RBI, Kiser 3-5 2 RBI, Trey Polewski 3-5; Evans-Wilkinson 2-3 2 RBI, Connor Murray 3-3 RBI.