Chris Jackson’s two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted Cleveland to a come-from-behind, 7-6 baseball victory over Corinth Holders on Thursday.
Jackson’s shot, which cleared the glove of leaping Pirates’ second baseman Robbie Storey, drove in Trevor Poole with the winning run in the see-saw affair.
Poole had reached on a one-out double to left field off losing pitcher Jake Lewis and moved to third on a grounder by Chris Bjorling against reliever Tyler Brown.
Cleveland’s triumph lifted the Rams to 8-11 overall and 3-5 in Two Rivers 2A Conference play, while Corinth Holders slipped to 8-9 overall.
More important, the Pirates dropped to 5-3 in the Two Rivers, one-half game behind South Johnston, which stands 5-2 in league play.
“Our guys played with a lot of energy tonight,” said Rams coach Jamie Lee. “We got some hits when we needed them in the middle innings and, in the seventh inning, had one sneak by them that would have won the game for us. But their shortstop (Tyler Barritt) made a great play.”
Barritt robbed Nolan Bailey of a potential game-winning hit in the bottom half of the seventh when he snared Bailey’s line shot, then doubled off Tyler Keenan to force the eighth inning.
Keenan had reached on a one-out single.
But defense failed the Pirates at critical times, allowing the Rams to rally from a 2-0 deficit with a pair of second inning runs and overcome a 4-2 hole with three fifth inning runs.
Keenan and Alan Michael-Hales drew walks around a pop fly, with Keenan scoring on a throwing error on a bunt by Poole, while Michael-Hales moved to third.
A wild pitch plated Michael-Hales with the tying run.
Cleveland took advantage of indecisiveness by the Pirates defense in the third, mounting a one-out rally with a single to right by Avery Dean and infield hits by Alan Stephenson and Keenan.
Keenan paced the eight-hit Rams attack with a 3-for-4 night.
Lewis fanned Bailey for one of his 10 strikeouts on the night, but Michael-Hales sent a hot smash between Storey’s legs for a two-run RBI and a 5-4 lead.
“That was definitely the key play in the game for us,” Lee said. “It gave us a really big lift, even though they came back and retook the lead.
“We had two or three errors that cost us two or three runs,” said Pirates coach Adam Weaver said. “And the times we had runners in scoring position, we just didn’t do our jobs.
“Jake, however, didn’t have his best stuff for us, but he battled through it and kept us in the ball game.”
Lewis issued five walks and surrendered seven hits in addition to the 10 strikeouts.
Corinth benefited from shaky defense by the Rams in building the 2-0 and 4-2 leads.
Consecutive one-out, first-inning hits by Oakley Wallrich and Barritt became unearned runs when Rams starting pitcher Patrick Banks lobbed a routine throw over the head of Michael-Hales.
The throw plated Wallrich and sent Barritt to third. He eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Khalil Hodge helped give the Pirates the lead in the third inning with a lead-off walk and a steal of second. Barritt, who was 3-for-4 for the night, singled Hodge to third. A wild pitch gave Corinth Holders a 3-2 lead.
Barritt came around to score on consecutive errors.
Jackson took over mound duties for the Rams, and except for a two-run sixth inning that reclaimed the lead for the Pirates, he shut down Corinth Holders.
The Pirates took a 6-5 lead when Adam Evans walked, was sacrificed to second and scored on Brendan Bloom’s single to left.
Bloom moved to second on the throw to the plate and scored on a single by Hodge, who was 2-for-4.
Cleveland tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on a walk to Chris Bjorling, who stole second, was sacrificed to third and scored on a Matt Noble grounder.