Errors loomed large in East Jackson’s season opening loss to Clarke Central on Monday in Athens.
The Eagles squandered a 5-1 lead, due in part to a couple of defensive miscues in the second inning, in a 7-6 loss to the Class 5A Gladiators.
East Jackson jumped on the board in the top of the first inning for two runs on a couple hits. Eagle pitcher Wes Bruce kept Clarke Central off balance as East built a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the second inning. But things fell apart for the Eagles with two errors, one a dropped infield popup by Walker Brooks that would have ended the inning.
Instead it loaded the bases for Clarke Central and, with the infield playing in, Ben Gillespie turned on a pitch and drove into the left field corner clearing the bases for a double, closing the lead to 5-4. Clarke Central wasn’t done as Tee White drove in Gillespie on an infield single that tied the game 5-5, ending the night for Bruce. Cody Nix came on in relief and for the next three innings neither team was able to muster offense until the bottom of the fifth inning when Clarke Central scored two runs on an RBI single by Will Septor and another infield single by Tee White to take a 7-6 lead. The two runs were also aided by a throwing error by Josh Adair and a misplayed ball at shortstop by Brooks.
Nix struck out eight over the three innings before turning the ball over to Tristan Webb to end the inning.
East Jackson scored a run in the top of the sixth, aided by two throwing errors by Clarke Central, but the momentum came to a halt as a suicide squeeze failed, and Clarke Central managed to escape the inning without further damage.
Austin Thomas led the Eagles at the plate, going 2-for-4 on the night with two singles and two RBIs.
East Jackson, which was scheduled to play Tuesday (Feb. 14) against Banks County (the game was moved up from Wednesday due to inclement weather), will travel to Athens Academy on Friday night at 5:55 p.m.