A solid outing from a freshman pitcher and an explosive third inning were the perfect ingredients for Flowery Branch’s baseball team to pick up its first home win of the season in a 7-4 game against Chestatee on Monday.
“I think it was important,” Flowery Branch coach Scott Myers said. “We needed a win. I think we’ve been playing pretty good. Our pitchers have been doing a good job of keeping us in games, we just haven’t been doing a great job of putting together runs.”
The War Eagles (2-3) were the first to strike as left fielder Kyle Garrett led off the third inning with a single.
Two batters later, center fielder Sean Irick ripped a ball into the right-center field gap of the Falcons’ (2-3) defense for an RBI triple, plating Garrett.
Facing a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the third, the Flowery Branch offense came to life.
Cam Holmes reached on an infield single, but was able to advance to second with an infield error.
Dylan Childress followed up with a double to score Holmes.
Another error on the Chestatee infield on a ball put in play by Falcons’ shortstop Cory Riley put runners on first and third.
Then, a wild pitch scored Ryan Gohman, who was pinch running for Childress, and moved Riley around to third base.
Jackson Harrell then delivered an RBI single.
Hamann scored on a wild pitch, putting the Falcons up 5-1 with two outs.
Designated hitter Blake Decker was hit by a pitch before Flowery Branch first baseman Dalton Strickland delivered a single past the second baseman, putting runners on the corners once again.
A couple of pitches later, Strickland took off to steal second and drew a balk from the Chestatee pitcher, resulting in a sixth run for Flowery Branch and a runner at second base.
The War Eagles’ biggest inning came in the fifth when Irick was walked and then stole second base to get another runner in scoring position.
Irick was brought around to score with second baseman Joe Sutton delivering a single. An error on the resulting play allowed Sutton to reach second.
Sutton scored two batters later as Sargent hit a single through the left side of the infield, cutting the deficit in half.
Chestatee put pressure on the Falcons’ defense in the sixth and seventh innings, ending each with the bases loaded, but was only able to add a final run on an error in the top of the seventh.
Myers said he was really starting to pace in the seventh as three consecutive walks led to the bases loaded situation.
Flowery Branch notched its last score in the bottom of the sixth with Holmes reaching on a passed ball on strike three.
Holmes then stole second, reached third on a fielder’s choice and, ultimately, scored on a single from Trey Groves.
The Falcons ended the night leaving seven runners on base. The War Eagles left 11.
Myers said he looked at stats earlier Monday and runners left on is a stat that has worried him to start the season and will be a focal point going forward.
“In the three games we’ve lost, we’ve left a lot runners on base,” Myers said. “I think there was 11 in one game and eight in another game. We can’t continue to do that. We’ve got to find a way to get those guys in.”
Other than getting the win, the bright spot of the game for Flowery Branch was freshman Zack Wagner.
Wagner started and pitched five innings for the win.
The young pitcher gave up eight hits and three runs on one error.
Wagner said he felt confident on the varsity mound as a freshman.
“I felt very comfortable up there,” Wagner said. “I was hitting the strike zone and we did our best. My team is doing its work and I need to do my job.”
“He threw well,” Myers said of his young starter. “He stayed down in the zone tonight and competed. His composure and his demeanor, he did an awesome job and I’m as pleased as I can be for that to happen and him to have a good outing.”
Chestatee visits Habersham Central at 5:45 p.m. today in Mount Airy. Flowery Branch plays Jackson County at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville today at 5:30 p.m.