(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
EAST PRAIRIE -- In their final tuneup before postseason play starts this weekend, the East Prairie Eagles saw a late three-run rally by the Bloomfield Wildcats seal a 7-5 loss on Wednesday.
"Our kids played hard today against a pretty good Bloomfield team," East Prairie head coach Gary Scott said. "We gave ourselves opportunities to score some runs we just couldn't come through with the big hit, especially early."
After being down as many as three runs early in the contest the Eagles were able to fight back to a 4-4 draw as they entered the top of the fifth. Putting the first two Bloomfield batters on, however, East Prairie kicked off a three-run rally by the Wildcats that put them on top for good.
With runners on second and third, Austin Williamson grounded into a fielder's choice to once again put the Wildcats back on top. A single to left field by Adam Vandiver plated Bloomfield's second run with Sam Bowling capping the rally by stealing home on a pickoff throw to second.
Though the Eagles loaded the bases with only one out the next inning, only one run came home as East Prairie closed the gap, 7-5.
In both of the final innings, East Prairie put a runner on first with less than two outs to bring the tying run to the plate. In each instance the inning ended in a strikeout as neither runner advanced past second base.
"Anytime you go on the road and get a win it's always nice," Bloomfield head coach Jason Karnes said.
Able to force the Eagles to strand a pair of runners both the first and second innings, Bloomfield received its first lead of the afternoon when Bowling doubled home Vandiver in the top of the second.
Back up in the third, the Wildcats were able to jump ahead 3-0 when a double by Zach Pounds and an infield error by the Eagles each plated a run.
"We got out of two tough innings early," Karnes said. "We gave up a few base runners and were able to sneak out of those innings without them scoring. For us to come up and get two early runs always bodes well for your pitcher and gives them a little bit of confidence."
Responding quickly East Prairie got back-to-back hit from Mack Marcum and Zach Downing kicked off a three-run rally that ties the game. Both Marcum and Pounds came around to score on errors with Ryan Mathis scoring the final run on a passed ball.
Bloomfield went ahead once again in the fourth on a single by Tim Fox only to see the Eagles knot things up again in the home half of the frame.
"We got a little momentum going there and had some kids hit the ball a little bit today," Scott said.
Each team combined for a nine-hit effort on the game with Downing going 3 for 4 to lead the Eagles. He collected a double and a single on the contest while driving in a run and scoring twice. Dalton Golightly and Marcum contributed two hits each, including a double by Golightly.
For the Wildcats Pounds, Vandiver and Bowling had two hits apiece as Pounds and Bowling each doubled and scored twice.
"We had a couple guys that hadn't been hitting very well lately, but they hit it well today," Karnes said. "Vandiver got a couple hits and I though Bowling hit the ball well too. Up and down I think we hit it today as balanced as we have all year."
Coming two outs short of a complete game Bloomfield starter Paul Fox picks up the win. He averaged over two strikeouts an inning through the fifth inning, fanning 12 on the game, while allowing all five runs on nine hits and a walk.
Fox left after allowing a one-out walk in the seventh with Vandiver coming in to secure the final two outs.
"I think today he was little bit sharper than what he has been lately," Karnes said. "He battled and threw well. He's battled every time he's been on the mound for us and we don't expect anything else. He did a really good job.
"Adam did a really good job too. That's not easy to come in with a two run lead with the tying run at the plate and a kid at first. To come in a little bit cold, probably not very warm, it was a good job by him as well."
East Prairie finishes the regular season at 10-8 while Bloomfield improves to 15-5.
Bloomfield 012 130 0 - 7 9 2
East Prairie 003 110 0 - 5 9 3
WP -- Paul Fox. LP -- Ryan Mathis. Multiple hitters: (B) Zach Pounds 2-4, Adam Vandiver 2-4, Sam Bowling 2-3; (E) Mack Marcum 2-4, Zach Downing 3-4, Dalton Golightly 2-4. 2B -- (B) Pounds, Bowling; (E) Downing, Golightly.