GAINESVILLE — Sometimes, seven innings just aren’t enough.
This was the case on Monday night in Gainesville when the White County High baseball team defeated region opponent East Hall 8-7 in eight innings.
After losing a four-run lead in the early stages of the game, the Warriors (5-4, 7-6 Region 7-AAA) appeared on the scoreboard again in the top of the seventh inning, scoring a game-tying run to force extra innings. From there, all it took was a bunt to score the game-winning run in the top of the eighth.
With the game tied 7-7 in the top of the eighth inning, Brantley Gee connected for a leadoff double, stole third and scored when Kevin Frederick slapped a suicide squeeze down the first base line to the Warriors the lead.
“I knew coach Brown was going to call for a bunt,” Frederick said. “I saw him give the sign so I put it down. I knew we were going to score.”
Gee struck out two in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win.
“We had opportunities early in the game that we almost let get away,” White County coach John Brown said. “But we had some big plays later in the game, including the bunt play.”
With the win, White County snaps a three-game losing streak.
“As a team in the middle of the region, we have to beat the teams below us if we want a chance to make the playoffs,” Brown said. “If we’re going to lose, we need to lose to top the top teams.”
The Warriors took control early in the game, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning off a double from Frederick and hits from Bart Westmoreland and Josh Ingram. White County struck again in the third, adding two more runs off four straight walks.
The Vikings (4-9, 3-6) would return the favor in the bottom of the third.
After three straight singles, East Hall’s Zeb Miller hit a triple to deep left field, scoring Jimmy Byers and Cody Davidson. Miller later scored off a single by Tracey Gardner, en route to a three-run inning for the Vikings. Miller finished the game 1-for-2, while Gardner was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
East Hall scored three more runs over the next two innings off doubles from Chris Cornett and Drew Adams while Satterfield’s pitching kept White County in check through four innings.
But the hitting slump didn’t last long for the Warriors.
In the top of the seventh inning with White County down by two runs, Ingram doubled and Jesse Brown hit a sacrifice fly to score Casey Jones. Travis Rutkiewicz followed up with a double to even the game at seven.
“I was encouraged by my team and I just hit it,” Rutkiewicz said. “I’ve always wanted our team to come through like that.”
Ingram led the Warriors at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run and RBI. Rutkiewicz was 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI.
East Hall nearly ended the game in the bottom of the seventh with two outs when Satterfield hit a deep fly ball headed for the left field wall that was caught by a diving Ingram.
“He’s done that before,” Brown said. “He’s made catches that kept us close to the playoffs last year.
“We did a great job late in the game,” he added. “The team played great together.”