It was merely the conference opener for both the Cleveland and Triton baseball teams but, despite there being plenty of games left to play in the Two Rivers 3A Conference, it felt bigger than that Friday night as the undefeated Hawks hosted the once-beaten Rams.
Triton entered the showdown unbeaten while Cleveland rode into town on a seven-game win streak. In the end it was the Rams using some two-out magic to deal the Hawks their first loss of the season, 8-3.
With two outs in the first inning, Cleveland was the beneficiary of four consecutive walks and turned them into runs. The Rams reached into its magic hat yet again in the fourth and plated three more runs, all after recording their second out.
As opposed to the visiting Rams, Triton did not have the same sort of success once getting two outs. The Hawks were 0-for-7 over the course of the game with a pair of strikeouts when facing their last out of the inning.
“Every game is a big game in our conference,” Cleveland coach Jamie Lee said. “Tonight, we just brought it. We jumped on them early with the four runs in the first inning and that kind of got them behind the eight-ball and gave us some room to work.”
Tyler Keenan and Will Tetrault each delivered RBI singles for the Rams.
After Cleveland (8-1) went up 4-0 after the top of the first inning, Triton (8-1) loaded the bases in their half of the first and had then had the first two baserunners get on base to start the bottom of the second. Flores came through in both situations; however, inducing a weak inning-ending groundball in the first and then striking out the last three batters he faced in the second.
Three to know
Landon Brown, Cleveland: The senior’s single up the middle in the top of the first inning scored Will Tetrault and Seth Gooding to give the Rams the sizeable 4-0 lead before Triton even got its first chance at the plate. Brown went 2-for-3 on the night.
Ryan Flores, Cleveland: The southpaw got better as the game wore on, keeping the Hawks off balance with his curveball. Asides from the two-run homerun he gave up to Hedgepeth, the senior was in complete control, striking out nine batters in six innings to get the win. Flores was also a menace on the base paths, getting two hits, scoring twice and using his speed to help manufacture runs.
“I was able to get all my pitches over for strikes,” Flores said. “I fell behind some batters but I was able to pull through and throw strikes when I needed to. The defense also definitely helped me out; I couldn’t do it without them.”
Aaron Hedgepeth, Triton: The junior launched a two-run shot over the right field fence in the bottom of the third inning to momentarily cut the lead in half to 4-2. It was Hedgepeth’s third homerun of the season.
By the numbers
0: Number of runs allowed by Triton starter Logan Bender entering the game
3: Number of hits for Triton’s Tyler Vaughn. Vaughn scored the third run of the game for the Hawks on a wild pitch in the seventh inning.
7: Walks issued to Cleveland in first four innings.
16: RBIs on the season for Triton’s Aaron Hedgepeth.
28: Days until the rematch takes place on April 15th at Cleveland
30: Pitches thrown by the Hawks’ Logan Bender in the first inning during which Cleveland jumped out to 4-0 lead.