Leading 8-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Charleston rallied with three runs in the inning, but Tyler Branam closed the door for the Eagles, striking out Charleston's Nick Johnson with the bases loaded to end the game.
The game was marked by inconsistent fielding and pitching, which is to be expected with the first game of the season and the weather conditions.
On a blustery day, with a brisk wind blowing from left to right field, both squads combined for seven errors and 18 bases on balls. Charleston committed five errors as a team and allowed seven unearned runs to score. East Prairie pitchers threw for 15 walks, but allowed only two hits.
"We were lucky to win this one today," said East Prairie head coach Gary Scott. "Not going to usually win a game when you allow 15 walks and commit some costly errors. We don't necessarily deserve the win, but I guarantee you we will take it."
The Eagles scored the first run of the game in the top of first, as Zach Secoy doubled to right center. William O'Guin singled to move Secoy over to third base with one out. Taylor White secured the RBI with a sacrifice fly to right field off Charleston starter Brink Naile, to score Secoy.
The Bluejays responded in their half of the first, without the benefit of a hit. Paul Johnson led off for Charleston and was hit by starter Caleb Hatton of East Prairie. Hatton struck out Naile, then proceeded to walk Josh Marshall and Tommy Starr, to load the bases.
Hatton struck out the next two Bluejay hitters to strike out the side, but before he could accomplish that feat, Johnson scored the Bluejays' first run of the game on a wild pitch.
Charleston took the lead in the bottom of the second, again scoring without the benefit of a hit. Hatton of the Eagles walked the bases loaded before being pulled in the bottom of the second with no outs for the Bluejays.
"I think Caleb had a case of the jitters and nerves to begin the game," said Scott. "Charleston is a big game for us and we had a great atmosphere with the crowd for a good game. Caleb was probably too pumped and just overthrew at times. Thought he would settle down, but he could never get going. Sometimes you have a game like that. Caleb is a key player for us and he will bounce back."
Zach Secoy came in relief of Hatton for East Prairie and held the Bluejays to just one run with the bases loaded and no one out. Charleston scored on a fielder's choice, hit by Paul Johnson. After two innings, Charleston led 2-1.
"Our boys did a good job of being patient in the first couple of innings at the plate," said Charleston head coach Chris Stanfield. "But our biggest problem in the game was not cashing in on our base runners. We just couldn't get the big hit, or break, that might have opened the game up early."
The Eagles tied the contest in the top of the third with an unearned run scored by Hunter Jones. After the first Eagle batter struckout to start the inning, Jones induced a walk and then stole second base. Charleston seemed to be getting out of the inning without much damage, as Naile got Secoy to fly out and O'Guin hit a ground ball to the Charleston third baseman.
However, Tommy Starr could not handle the ball and it went under his glove into left field. Jones scored on the error and the score was 2-2.
Charleston took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, once again scoring without the benefit of a hit.
Naile and Marshall reached base on walks with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Naile scored from third base on an error by the Eagles centerfielder, who dropped a catchable fly ball.
Marshall scored the second run of the fourth on a fielder's choice hit into by Nick Johnson of the Bluejays. After four innings, Charleston led 4-2 with only one hit.
Both teams failed to score in the fifth and the Eagles were down to six remaining outs. O'Guin reached base for East Prairie on a Charleston error to start the top of the sixth.
White grounded into what appeared to be a routine fielder's choice for the Bluejays, to get O'Guin at second. However, the Bluejay second baseman failed to tag the base and both O'Guin and White were safe for the Eagles.
Tyler Branam was up next for East Prairie and he walked to load the bases with nobody out. After an Eagle batter struckout, Hatton hit a swinging bunt that the Bluejays could not get to, and O'Guin scored for East Prairie.
Leading 4-3, the Bluejays seemed to get out of the sixth after Naile struckout Corey Borders to end the inning. However, Charleston's catcher mishandled the throw and the ball squirted away. Catcher, John Robert Goodin made a swift recovery and captured the loose baseball and prepared to throw out Borders at first.
Unfortunately for the Bluejays, Goodin's throw to first sailed over Tyler McCann and into right field. Two runs scored for the Eagles and East Prairie led 5-4, scoring three runs without the ball leaving the infield.
East Prairie scored two more runs in the sixth, as ground ball went through the wickets of McCann and into right field. The Eagles scored the sixth and final run of the inning on a RBI single by O'Guin. East Prairie led 8-4.
"Man, we had one bad inning in the sixth," said Stanfield. "What could go wrong, did. We missed some ground balls and that dropped third strike was a momentum swing. We had a force out at the plate, but our catcher failed to realize the scenario. But can't fault the effort. The kids played very hard today and we just came up short at the end. Exciting game."
The Eagles were three outs away from victory with a tiring Secoy on the mound trying to close the deal.
Secoy walked three out of the first four Charleston hitters to load the bases with one out. Secoy struck out Paul Johnson, but Goodin scored for the Bluejays on a error by the Eagle second baseman.
Marshall and Starr induced walks from Secoy, scoring two runs on the walks. East Prairie led 8-7 with two outs and the bases loaded, which is when Branam came in and saved the game for the Eagles.
"Just proud of the guys for overcoming all of the errors we had today," said Scott. "Give Charleston some credit for battling back in the seventh. Tyler did a great job of hanging in against that last batter, he got down 3-0 in the count and he just didn't relent. Wonderful effort by all the boys."
O'Guin led the offense for East Prairie going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Secoy had a double and scored for the Eagles. White and Hatton had an RBI each for East Prairie.
Secoy went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two hits, walked 10 and struckout eight for the win.
Billy Butler and Nick Johnson recorded the two hits for Charleston, a double and single respectively. Starr had two RBI'S and Marshall had an RBI for the Bluejays.
Naile went 5 2/3 innings, allowed four hits, walked two and struckout nine in the tough loss.
"Brink did an outstanding job today on the mound," said Stanfield. "The thought heading into the game, was to limit Brink to 50 or 60 pitches. But we asked him late in the game and he said he felt good. We tried to push the envelop and Brink just ran out of gas. He is just a tough-luck pitcher."
Charleston (0-1) travels to Chaffee today to take on the Red Devils at 4 p.m.
East Prairie (1-0) will travel to Campbell on Tuesday with first pitch set for 4 p.m.