RANTOUL —In baseball the outcome of a game can be determined with one swing.
Jake Lykins was up to bat for the Eagle in the bottom of the eighth. Lykins had been 0-2, but the bases were loaded and there was only one out. The game was tied at 2-2.
“I was struggling at the plate,” Lykins said. “I just kept telling myself this is my time.”
That time came for Lykins. Lykins on a 2-2 count, hit a ground ball that went past Olympia’s shortstop and into left field for a walk-off single giving the Eagles a 3-2 victory.
“I knew I had a great runner at third base to come home,” Lykins said. “He knew when the ball was down and he came home to win the game. I was so in relief.”
Lykins walkoff hit was one of two key plays that he made in the eighth inning. Adam Crites had been pitching for the Eagles all eight innings and was over the 100 pitch count. The Spartans had a runner on first, Kyle Fasse, who was thrown out by Lykins after trying to steal second.
“In the top of the eighth with Adam pressing against the pitch count limit, Lykins throws a runner for the second out,” said Alan Jones Jr., Rantoul assistant coach. “Throwing out that runner with two outs now allows Adam to face this last batter. We had confidence he was going to get that guy out.”
Eagles score in the first inning
The Eagles put up two runs in the first inning. Crites was 2-2 that included an RBI single in the first. Maycoll Paredes replaced Crites as a base runner at first. A single by Hayden Cargo advanced Parades to third. Paredes scored after an infield error committed by Alex Unsicker at first base.
Spartan offense strikes back
The Spartans responded in the second inning. Unsicker singled and then stole second. Unsicker scored after a Ethan Davis hit a single into left field. The score was 2-1 and would remain that way until the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, the Spartan batters did not give up. At that moment of the game, the Spartans were down to their last at bat. Davis hit a single and then stole second. Winterland brought Davis home with a single that tied it at 2-2.
“In the top of the seventh inning they end up getting a base hit and were able to put something together,” Jones said. “Eventually scoring after another single. That’s what baseball is. You throw your best pitch, they put their best swing on and they get the ball in play to tie the game on us.”
Lykins said that his teammates knew they had to respond quickly to stop the Spartan’s momentum if they were going to pull out the win.
“When they came back we were just like it’s time to fight back,” Lykins said. “We weren’t going to give up. It’s great to know that we were able to bounce back. We gave 100-percent in this game.”
Eagles lose non-conference game to Charleston
The Eagles bounced back after losing 9-3 to the Charleston Trojans in a non-conference game last Wednesday. In that game the Eagles would lost a 3-2 lead they had in the third inning.
In the fourth inning, Zach Hill and Ben Hess would hit back-to-back RBI single to give the Trojans a 4-3 lead.
The Trojans scored another run in the fifth inning because of two straight infield errors by the Eagles to make the score 5-3. The Trojans added a run in the sixth inning and then an additional three runs in the seventh.
The Eagles were out hit by the Spartans by a 7-3 margin. Both teams committed five errors.
“We were down two runs in the middle of the game to put some pressure on,” Jones said. “We just had some mental and physical mistakes that opened that game up further than it was. The boys were competing and focus. That’s the part of the game that they are continuing to learn.”
Jones said that the Eagles took what they learned from their loss against Charleston and used it for the next day against Olympia.
“During the Charleston game, things didn’t go our way,” Jones said. “Against Olympia those same set of kids go out and beat a very good team in extra innings. It’s the game of baseball and another great example of the type of quality kids we have on the team.”
Upcoming game for the Eagles
Next up for the Eagles is an away game at 4:30 p.m. Monday against Paxton-Buckley-Loda.
Contact Ben Theobald at email@example.com