CHARLOTTESVILLE — Sometimes in baseball, simply putting the ball in play is most effective.
With the help of five Tri miscues Tuesday, Eastern Hancock snapped a four-game losing streak, using explosive third and fourth innings to run away with a 11-0 five-inning home-opening win.
The Royals needed just six hits to earn their second win of the season and received RBIs from six players, including three from sophomore second baseman A.J. Muegge. Senior Tom Barton and juniors Clayton White and Devin Denny each finished with two RBIs apiece to pace Eastern Hancock.
“We are not a power hitting team, we are a line-drive team and are going to use our speed very well,” said Royals head coach Chad Coughenour, who has been with the team for 11 seasons now. “We compete; we challenged our boys to make them make a play. They do a great job of that and play for each other.
“All our early losses came against teams that have been or are ranked. From our standpoint, we went through a rough time. The boys were in every game; we can compete with those teams.”
White got the nod on the mound and finished with four hits and two strikeouts over five innings of work. He gave up three singles, as well as a double in the third inning to Tri leadoff hitter Kaleb Harrison but was effective the rest of the way with several groundouts.
“He (Clayton White) loaded the strike zone with pitches and did what we wanted him to do,” Coughenour said of his ace, who threw 53 pitches in the win to improve to 2-0 this season.
“Clayton is not a strikeout pitcher, but he kept the ball down and played to contact.”
Muegge, who entered Tuesday’s contest with eights hits in 23 at-bats (.348), got the scoring going in the third inning with a single up the middle that scored sophomore Jarett Lewis and junior Levi Majority for a 2-0 Royals (2-5) lead.
Lewis and Majority, who each singled in the game, were catalysts at the bottom of the team’s lineup, helping Eastern Hancock add much needed base runners in the pivotal third and fourth innings.
“We have a bunch of kids from top to bottom and don’t really have any holes,” Coughenour added. “We are able to do just about anything with every kid; bunt, move runners and even steal bases if we need to.”
Barton, who entered the game leading the team in hits (11) with a .500 batting average and eight RBIs, made the lead 4-0 with a double to right field after Muegge. He finished 1-for-3 and is now hitting .480 on the season.
“Tom understands what kind of hitter he is,” Coughenour said of his cleanup hitter. “He looks for a pitch to hit and looks to line drive it. He has been superb with runners on base and two outs. Guys have got on for him, too.”
In the fourth inning, Eastern Hancock used four hits, including a double from senior center fielder Garek Ferguson and a triple from White, to score six runs and force the game to be called in five innings.
“It was good to finally get out here and get a win,” Coughenour said. “These guys have been working hard. Today, we played our game. It helped us see who we really are.”
The Royals return to the field on Thursday at Liberty Christian. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Tri 0, Eastern Hancock 11
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
WP: White (2-0) (EH) . LP: Jackson (THS)
2B: Harrison (THS). Ferguson, Barton (EH). 3B: White (EH). RBI: Muegge 3, Barton 2, Duzan, Denny 2, Ferguson, White 2 (EH). SB: Majority 2, Barton (EH).
EH: Muegge 1-3, 3 RBIs, Barton 1-3, double, 2 RBIs, White triple, 2 RBIs, win on mound, Denny 2 RBIs, Lewis 1-1 single and walk, Ferguson double, RBI, Majority 2 stolen bases.