EAST JACKSON got solid pitching and a highlight reel night on defense in a 6-2 win over Oglethorpe County Friday at home.
Robert McKay threw a complete game and was backed by some pretty crafty glove work from his teammates as the Eagles (2-6, 1-2) broke a four-game skid.
“The pitching doesn’t get much better,” East Jackson coach Matt Pruitt said.
McKay scattered seven hits over seven innings of work, walking one and striking out one in another quality start for the sophomore lefthander.
“McKay has been consistent all year,” Pruitt said. “That’s fairly typical … And the defense really picked him up."
The Eagle defense made the routine plays and some not-so-ordinary ones, too, to hold the Olgethorpe County offense at bay. Pruitt challenged his team to do so after an 11-1 loss to Hart County four days earlier.
“After Monday’s loss to Hart County, I told the guys that we have to move beyond just making the routine plays,” Pruitt said.
Freshman centerfielder Colton Puckett was certainly listening.
Starting in the outfield for a dinged-up Austin Johnson, Puckett made two diving grabs — in addition to handling the other fly balls that came his way — to wow the home crowd at Eagle Field.
“He made a couple highlight plays out there and made the routine plays,” Pruitt said.
Though Puckett did boot one ball late (“Of course, like a rookie he had to throw in an error for good measure,” Pruitt joked), the freshman’s play Friday night in the outfield “was a gift,” the coach said.
Eventually, the offense came around, too, as East Jackson took a 3-1 lead in the third inning. The Eagles loaded the bases and scored their first run when Oglethorpe County starting pitcher Clay Ogle beaned Ethan Lyons. Josh Valles then followed with a two-run single.
East Jackson padded the lead with three more runs in the sixth.
Brandon Brown provided a two-out, run-scoring single, while Caleb Hardy drove home two more runs with a bloop single to centerfield to push the Eagle edge to 6-1.
“The insurance in the sixth inning was huge,” Pruitt said. “That was something I was really pleased with.”
East Jackson was coming off a 14-9 loss to Hart County Wednesday, which followed the 11-1 setback to the Bulldogs on Monday.
In the 14-9 loss, the Eagles rallied from eight runs down late to force extra innings. Pruitt said nearly winning that contest — then the disappointment of defeat — inspired Friday’s performance against Oglethorpe County.
“I really think they took that and brought it out here today (Friday),” Pruitt said.
East Jackson and Oglethorpe County (5-5, 0-3) complete their two-game series Monday on the road in Lexington.