The East Hamilton Hurricanes will eventually be a better than average baseball team, but they aren’t there just yet.
Facing the South Pittsburg Pirates at home in action from Hixson’s Wildcat Classic, the Hurricanes fell to 0-3 on the young season after being limited to just three hits in an 8-1 loss Saturday afternoon.
Senior right-hander Jess Morrison was more than the ‘Canes could handle as he picked up the win by allowing three hits and one run in five innings as the Pirate starter. He also had six strikeouts and didn’t walk anyone.
Junior E. J. Cagle came in to pitch the final two frames and was equally as effective as he retired all six hitters he faced while striking out two.
Needless to say, South Pittsburg coach Brian Paris was happy with the results.
“I’m really proud of the way we competed today. Jess Morrison did a fantastic job controlling the strike zone and he was able to get a lot of ground ball outs. It’s always easier to play good defense when your pitcher is throwing strikes, but I also liked how we were able to score a bunch of runs with two outs,” he said, not knowing that six of his team’s eight runs crossed the plate after the second out had been recorded.
“We feel like we have a pretty good team that can compete in May and that’s why we enter tournaments like this where we can face some larger schools. But I feel like we can build on a win like this and hopefully, it will make us better on down the road,” he added.
Chuck Bronson was the starter for East Hamilton and pitched the first two innings. He retired three straight in the first after leadoff hitter Micah Genter reached third on a dropped fly in right and he hit Drew Petty in the second, but rebounded with a strikeout to end that inning.
Jared Price came on in relief and was tagged with the loss after allowing seven runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings.
East Hamilton coach Steve Garland is still looking for answers, but he’s confident that his team will turn things around before long.
“South Pittsburg came out and attacked and you have to give them a lot of credit for that. Right now, we aren’t playing very good baseball and that’s my fault as I’m responsible for getting them ready to play.
“We aren’t hitting very well either and we’ll see how that develops, but I like what I saw from South Pittsburg and my hat’s off to them,” Garland added while dragging the infield after the first game ended.
When asked about Bronson's short appearance, Garland quickly explained, "We have important district games on Monday and Tuesday and we'll need him then."
Price got the first out on a pop to himself on the first pitch of the third inning before Genter singled to left. Cade Kennemore then delivered a perfect bunt single toward third before Morrison got hit with a pitch to load the bases.
Hogan Holland’s grounder to short plated the first run before Mason Fuqua and Garrett Raulston came through with clutch two-out hits.
Fuqua had the biggest blow with his two-run single while Raulston’s bloop double down the line in right drove in the South Pittsburg catcher with the fourth run.
East Hamilton finally got its first hit in the fourth after the first nine batters had been retired. Davis Dunn doubled to the gap in right-center and went to third on a Pirate error before scoring on a groundout by Drew Cantrell.
The Hurricanes threatened again in the fifth when Bronson reached on an infield single with two outs. Jacob Howard then singled sharply down the line in left, but the inning ended when Bronson was thrown out at third.
The Pirates added to their lead with three more runs in the sixth, including all with two outs.
Kennemore drove in the first two with a single to right while the third scored on East Hamilton’s third error of the game.
Genter’s RBI-single in the seventh accounted for South Pittsburg’s final run.
Genter, Kennemore and Cagle all had two hits for the Pirates while Fuqua and Raulston both had one each.
Dunn’s double was the only extra-base hit for East Hamilton while Bronson and Howard both had one single each.
South Pittsburg was playing Ooltewah in Saturday’s second game while the Hurricanes were scheduled to play Hixson at Hixson in the final game of the day.
SOUTH PITTSBURG 004 003 1 – 8 8 1
EAST HAMILTON 000 100 0 – 1 3 3
Morrison, Cagle (6) and Fuqua; Bronson, Price (3), Ottinger (6) and Howard.
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East Hamilton starting pitcher Chuck Bronson delivers to the plate to start the game.
- Photo2 by Dennis Norwood