The Airport Eagles scored two runs in the top of the sixth to earn a come-from-behind 7-6 win over the St. John’s Vikings from Maryland Monday, April 10 at the first day of the Forest Acres Classic.
“We compete. This is the way it’s been all year,” Airport head coach Casey Bradwell said. “We can play some clean baseball. We can play some not so clean baseball as we saw with five errors today. They keep showing up every inning trying to figure it out. They kept battling and got it done.”
Airport’s Corbin Wright led off with a double. Then Hunter Epps laid down a bunt. He reached first as the ball went into right field on the throw, and Wright scored to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Shane Hanna followed with a single to put two on with no outs. Two batters later, Price Jackson ripped a double, scoring Epps and extending Airport’s lead to 2-0. Cam Atkins followed with a single, scoring Hanna and courtesy runner Charlie Jackson as the Eagles led 4- 0 after the top of the first.
St. John’s answered in the bottom of the inning. Bronson Taylor hit a one out double, and Josh Skowronski followed with a two-run home run to close the gap to 4-2.
The Vikings added more when David Chandler hit a two-out double and Taylor singled scoring Chandler to bring St. John’s within a run. Taylor would later score following a ground ball by Griffin Puvel to tie the game at 4-4 heading to the third.
Billy Swaney led off the bottom of the third with a walk. Shane Meyer bunted into a fielder’s choice. Two batters later, Branden Pershin singled to give the Vikings two on with two out. Chandler then singled, scoring Meyer to put St. John’s in front 5-4. Pershin then scored on an error as the Vikings led 6-4 at the end of the third.
“My message is to always stay level-headed,” Bradwell said. “Don’t get too high or too low. Just try to relax and play the game. We try to speed things up or do things we’re not capable of doing and get ourselves in trouble. We just have to relax and keep competing. That’s pretty much it. You have to be tough enough to compete no matter what.”
Airport began chipping away at the deficit in the top of the fourth. Brice Gillette singled, and Logan Crawford reached on an error. Two batters later, Epps sliced a single, scoring Gillette to shrink the deficit to 6-5.
That score remained until the top of the sixth. Gillette hit a leadoff double. Two batters later, Wright was intentionally walked to give the Eagles two on with one out. Later in the inning, Hanna reached base on an error. Gillette and courtesy runner Addison Keisler both scored on the play to put Airport on top 7-6 in the top of the sixth.
“We struggle swinging it sometimes,” Bradwell said. “So any chance we get to try to steal a run we’re going to push the issue. We’ve gotten burned on some aggressive stuff this year, but we’re going to be aggressive. If we get thrown out at the plate, we just get thrown out at the plate. The numbers tell you, you should try to send them there. The number of two out base hits in high school baseball isn’t very many. We pushed the issue and tried to make someone make a play and it worked out for us.”
That was more than enough for Wright and Miller Harrelson on the mound. Wright put down the Vikings in order in the sixth. Harrelson did the same in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win.
“We’ve got a lot of arms. Sometimes they’re on; sometimes they’re not,” Bradwell said. “We’re just trying to mix and match. Our philosophy at Airport is to win the first game, win the game you’re playing and don’t worry about the rest of them. We ran some guys out there. We don’t know a lot about these teams from out of state. When we figured out they had six left handers we went to our left handers that we have. Things would have been different if they had a bunch of right handers. It depends on what the team has. We just found a way.”
Wright picked up the win. He pitched two innings, giving up no runs and no hits while striking out two.
Epps led the way for the Eagles at the plate going 3-for-4 with two RBI. Atkins went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Jackson went 2- for-4 with one RBI.
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