BELPRE, Ohio — Connect four, mercy rule style.
The Eastern baseball team claimed its fourth straight mercy rule victory to start the season on Wednesday in Washington County, defeating Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division host Belpre by a 12-0 count in six innings, and holding the Golden Eagles to a single hit.
Eastern (4-0, 2-0 TVC Hocking) was retired in order in the top of the first frame, but made up for lost time in the second, batting around and scoring six runs on the strength of six hits.
The Eagles missed an opportunity to add on in the third inning, however, having a runner thrown out at the plate and leaving two more in scoring position. EHS made up for it with two outs in the top of the fourth though, plating two runs to make the margin 8-0.
Belpre’s first base runner came in the bottom of the fourth, but was stranded on second base.
Eastern went up 9-0 in the fifth inning, but left another runner on third base. A three-run hit by Brayden Smith in the top of the sixth capped off the Eagles’ 12-0 victory.
EHS sophomore Matthew Blanchard was the winning pitcher of record, allowing one hit and two walks, while striking out 13 batters in a complete game. Blanchard struck out at least one batter in every inning, ending 5-of-6 frames with a strikeout.
Smith led the Eagle offense, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and five runs batted in. Blanchard was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs for the victors, Conner Ridenour was 2-for-3 with a run, while Isaiah Fish was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Nate Durst and Bruce Hawley both contributed a double, two runs and an RBI to the winning cause, while Blake Newland and Ryan Harbour both singled once and scored once. Colton Reynolds crossed home plate once in the win.
Adams had Belpre’s lone hit, a leadoff single in the fourth.
BHS stranded a trio of runners on base and committed three errors, while EHS played errorless defense and left seven runners on base.
These teams are scheduled to rematch on April 12 in Tuppers Plains.
Eastern will be back home on Friday to host Waterford in the battle of the last two TVC Hocking champions.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.