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Waterford coach Chris Schmidt visits the mound after the Eastern hitter hit fourth by firing pitcher Xavier Hess (19). Also pictured are catcher Len Kline (4) and second baseman Wade Brooker (11). (Photo by Kerry Patrick)

Waterford – Eastern’s Brady Rockhold considers himself a first pitcher. On Friday afternoon against Waterford, the sophomore backed up his role as a baseball player after limiting the Wildcats to four hits in a complete 6-1 victory.

Waterford’s only run was unearned and across the board not until the bottom of the sixth inning with the Easterns already leading 5-0. Our Rockhold also hit all four while walking twice.

“Brad is in control the whole time,” Eastern coach Chris Stewart said. “He’s just a sophomore and he doesn’t have his driver’s license yet. He’s a guy I’d say is a pitcher. You ask him what position he plays and he drives you as a pitcher. He’ll play third base and shortstop too. He’s the kind of guy you want in the big game.”

“That’s what I love about him — he has such a great presence on the mound.”

Minus many errors and four batsmen, the Waterford combination held the wickets of Xavier Hess and Colten Hess in their own style. Hess lasted 4 1/3 innings pitched and finished with seven strikeouts. On two separate occasions, he hit three in one run.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, a passed ball on a swinging third strike allowed the Eastern players to score during the same sequence and increase the gap to 3-0 through four runs.

Team Eastern, who play Saturday in Ravenswood against both the Red Devils and South Harrison, improved to 7-4. Boss Rockhold and Waterford coach Chris Schmidt share similar experiences with the number of youngsters on their rosters. While Waterford avoids using youth as an excuse, Eastern’s fresh faces are among its biggest contributors.

Rockhold is the Eagles’ No. 1 pitcher, but there’s a freshman knocking on the door as the No. 2 at stick.

“We’re young and we’re getting there,” Schmitt said after the Wildcats fell to 5-5. “We have a big week next week at TVC with Belpre and Southern, and that should get us back at it. I think we’re there. We just need to execute better.”

East his way is mainly openwork and dreaded his way through Waterford. Despite no clean innings from Waterford’s pitching staff, Eastern only managed one run over the first three innings. The Eagles first run scored in the top of the first inning when Jess Burlington scored on a wild pitch with one out.

For the match, Eastern combined 16 to bat with runners in the scoring position and only managed one run – a double from Rockhold which left Waterford trailing 5–0 in the sixth inning.

An Alec Collins double that ultimately led to East’s sixth run was the only extra base hit by either side.

“We are not power hitters in any way,” said Stewart. “A lot of our guys fell into a hole early because their man was throwing putts. (Hess) threw a heck of a game. Our guys used to say his pitches were getting them in quickly. They were saying it didn’t look like much when they were on deck, but when they got in the box they said it was like Heavy ball. I could tell too. He had a live arm.”

Waterford fared no better when scoring opportunities presented themselves. The Eagles finished 0-for-8 in this particular section and stranded nine runners on base.

We couldn’t score two goals tonight. Schmidt said. “A 6-1 game felt like a 2-1 game. Give Eastern credit. Their pitching caught strikes and caught us.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at [email protected]

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