Riverside Military baseball coach Matt Gifford is in charge of a team that is winning games during the part of the season when they matter most. The Eagles (8-8, 5-4 Region 8N-AA) are getting the timely hits, and winning their fair share of region contests.
"When we started the season we were in a slump," Gifford said. "But we’re starting to peak at the right time."
Riverside Military seemed to put it all together with solid extra-inning hitting in a 6-5 region victory in nine innings against Union County (7-8, 2-7) on Wednesday at Cunningham Field. Tied at 5 in the top of the ninth, Eagles junior lead-off hitter Brian Kerekes got on base with a lead-off single, moved to second on an infield error and came around to score on a game-winning single from catcher Patrick Wermert.
Kerekes finished the game reaching base in all five plate appearances, in addition to two runs scored and a pair of RBIs.
"I have confidence that if I do my job and get on base, the guys behind me will drive me in," Kerekes said.
With the win, the Eagles have won six of their last eight, including victories in two of three games played last week in a spring break tournament at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.
Riverside managed to win all three games against the Panthers this season, including a 1-0 no-hitter by Riverside in the last outing.
The Eagles won the final meeting of the season despite giving up the lead with two outs in the top of the seventh. With the bases empty, Dalton Everett and Josh Walker got on base, setting the stage for RBI singles from junior Blake Gowder and Chad Shook, tying the game 5-5. Brady McCarter led Union County with a 3-for-5 night at the plate. Walker and Shook each had two hits for the Panthers.
"I felt like our kids battled really well out there tonight," Union County coach C.T. Hussion said. "There were good plays on both sides tonight and it was a good game for the fans to see."
Riverside Military held and relinquished the lead twice earlier in the game. Eagles third baseman Will Huff connected on a two-run home run in the first inning for the first two runs of the game. Union County responded immediately with a two-run double from Shook in the top of the second inning.
Then in the sixth inning, the Eagles plated three runs to take a 5-3 lead. Brian Cox and Ryan Osegueda each had singles, then Wesley Kaye drove in the game-tying run with an RBI double off the outfield fence. Kerekes plated two runs with a single.
Tommy Stalnaker also reached base twice for the Eagles.
Riverside Military visits Dawson County at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Union County plays host to Fannin County on Friday in Blairsville. The subregion tournament for 8N-AA starts next Friday.