Photo: Hokes Bluff’s Landon Johnson dives back to first base as Southside’s Mason McGlaughn catches the pickoff throw during the Eagles’ 3-0 victory in high school baseball on Wednesday (March 7) at SHS. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Timely hits and dominant pitching led Hokes Bluff to a 3-0 victory over cross county rival Southside in high school baseball action on Wednesday (March 7) at Southside.
Hokes Bluff senior Landon Johnson threw five shutout innings while only allowing four hits and three walks, and Caleb McGinnis tossed two shutout innings in relief as the Eagles (5-1) defeated the Panthers for the second time in less than a week.
Hokes Bluff coach Mike Robertson said he was proud of his pitching staff’s performance in the win, noting that it is important to establish depth on the mound heading into area play.
“Landon (Johnson) sat out last year, so it was good to see him throw strikes most of the game,” Robertson said. “Then Caleb (McGinnis) came in and did a great job. If you get in a three-game series – which we’ll do in the area games – depth at pitching comes in play, so it’s good to see them have a good outing. It’s just a good win.”
After two scoreless innings from both teams, Hokes Bluff centerfielder Carson Eubanks hit a leadoff single in the top of the third. Eubanks stole second base, and shortstop Weston Ball drove him home for the first run of the game to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Dylan Teague knocked through a base hit for the Eagles and stole second a few pitches later. Ball knocked in his second run of the game on an RBI double to extend the lead to 2-0.
The Panthers threatened in the bottom of the fifth after Brock Ford and Brennan Stokes both connected on base hits, but they were left stranded on the bases as Johnson forced three fly balls to get out of the inning.
Hokes Bluff struck again in the top of the sixth after pinch hitter Ashton Gulledge reached safely on a throwing error. Two batters later, McGinnis drove Gulledge home to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.
Southside failed to generate any offense in the last two innings other than a base hit from Daniel Sieber in the bottom of the sixth and a hit from Caleb Burford in the bottom of the seventh. The Panthers left seven runners on the bases throughout the game.
“Offensively, we had some good at bats, but we struck out a little bit too much probably,” Robertson said. “But overall, I thought we played a good baseball game. Southside has a good club.”
Ball led the Eagles from the plate as he finished 2-4 with a double and two RBIs. McGinnis was 1-1 with an RBI and two walks, while Eubanks was 2-4 with a stolen base and a run scored.
Stokes was 2-3 for Southside, while Sam Raines pitched six innings and struck out four in the loss.
Robertson said he wants his team to be more consistent offensively moving forward.
“We’re facing good pitching, but I’m looking for us to put some hits together and be a little more consistent at the plate,” he said. “Defensively and base running, we’re good sometimes and sometimes bad. We made some mistakes today on the bases, but that happens.”