Red Level, Central bring down Blue Eagles
By By SCOTT COOPER – Sports Writer
The W.S. Neal Blue Eagles' up-and-down play on the diamond continued in action held over the past week. Entering the week's play on the heels of two straight wins, the Blue Eagles dropped consecutive decisions while dropping to 7-5 on the season.
According to Neal head coach Coy Campbell, his team's inconsistent play of late can be traced to lack of production on the offensive end.
Red Level 5, Blue Eagles 3
When the Blue Eagles hit the road for a March 24 meeting against the Red Level Tigers, they fell behind early before tying the game midway through the contest. However, missed offensive opportunities over the last several innings heavily contributed to Neal ending with a 5-3 loss.
Red Level inflicted most of its offensive damage in the first inning. Three straight singles accounted for one run before a squeeze play allowed two more runners to cross the plate for a 3-0 Tiger lead.
The Blue Eagles cut into the deficit in the top of the second inning. A Daniel Hodge double was followed by a Paul Crabtree single, and then Cory Freeman's sacrifice fly moved Hodge home while reducing the Red Level advantage to 3-1.
Neal starting pitcher Chad McCall held the Tigers at bay in the bottom of the second inning before the Blue Eagles tied the score in the top of the third.
Jared Cooper began the Neal rally with a single. Then, three consecutive walks drawn by Neal batters moved Cooper in and pulled the Blue Eagles within one, 3-2. Cody Anthony then stepped to the plate and delivered a clutch RBI single that deadlocked the score at 3-3.
After McCall again handcuffed the Tiger batters in the bottom of the third, the Blue Eagles failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity in the top of the fourth.
With no outs, Neal was in position for a big inning with the bases loaded. But, the Blue Eagles' offensive production ended at that point as no runs moved across the plate.
Through four innings, the score remained unchanged at 3-3. But, Red Level manufactured two runs in its half of the fifth to surge ahead. Following a single, error and stolen base, the Tigers were in good position with two runners in scoring position. Then, a double moved both baserunners home and placed Neal at a 5-3 disadvantage.
In a virtual repeat of the fourth inning scenario, the Blue Eagles put themselves in good position in the top of the sixth only to come away with nothing. After loading the bases with only one out, Neal's batters were unable to produce the big hits that were needed to score runs.
Red Level put the wraps on the win by shutting-down the Blue Eagle offense in the top of the seventh inning.
Although suffering the loss, Chad McCall pitched well for Neal as he allowed seven hits, two earned runs and recorded four strikeouts in six innings of work.
Offensive leaders for the Blue Eagles were Cory Freeman, 1-for-2 with one RBI; Daniel Hodge, 1-for-2 and Cody Anthony, 1-for-3 with one RBI.
Central 4, Blue Eagles 2
The Blue Eagles' limited offensive production continued when they returned home for a March 25 contest against the Central of Allentown, Fla. Jaguars.
Neal starting pitcher Patrick Sorrells kept his team in the game by tossing a four-hitter, but the Blue Eagle offense remained stymied by a lack of clutch hitting in a 4-2 loss.
Both starting pitchers shot-down the opposing offenses in the first three innings, but the Jaguars grabbed a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the fourth.
In the top half of the fifth inning, Central padded the cushion to a comfortable margin. Although the visitors only recorded two hits, two Neal errors coupled with a passed ball allowed three runs to cross the plate for a 4-0 Jaguar advantage.
The Blue Eagles produced a run that cut into the lead in the bottom half of the fifth. After Daniel Hodge doubled to lead off the inning, Paul Crabtree lined a single to left field that moved Hodge home and made the score 4-1.
As Neal came to bat in the bottom of the seventh, they continued facing a three-run deficit. Hodge once again began a rally with a line-drive single before moving to third on Crabtree's double. Hodge crossed the plate courtesy of a Jaguar wild pitch, but the comeback attempt ended there and Central exited with the victory.
Leaders at the plate for Neal were Paul Crabtree, 3-for-3 with one RBI; Daniel Hodge, 2-for-3 and Cory Freeman, 1-for3.