GARNER

East Jackson's Payton Garner runs toward first base on a pop-up during recent action. 

A youthful East Jackson baseball team struggled through a five-win season this spring, but coach Scott Myers didn’t want to pin the team’s losses totally on growing pains. While a factor, youth wasn’t the sole reason for a 5-21 season, he said.

“You can only use that excuse for so long … 15 games in, in my opinion, you really can’t say, ‘Well, we’re young,’” Myers said.

East Jackson dropped three games last week to No. 3-ranked Franklin County to close the season. The Eagles fell 6-1 on April 20 at home followed by 7-0 and 15-0 losses at Franklin County Friday (April 23). East Jackson suffered seven shutout losses on the year.

“We were not very good offensively at the plate,” Myers said of the season. “We’ve definitely got to get better there, for sure.”

Like the season as a whole, part of the reason behind those struggles was the team’s youth.

“I think so, part of it is,” Myers said. “Part of it was a little bit of selfishness at the plate, a little bit of 'me over the team' kind of concept.”

East Jackson kept its April 20 loss to Franklin County relatively close for most of the night, trailing 4-1 after four innings before Franklin County added a run in the top of the fifth and another in the top of the seventh. The Eagles were limited to four hits. East Jackson's Kamden Berkeypile went the distance on the mound, allowing eight hits and six runs, though only four were earned. He struck out three batters and walked one.

East Jackson also remained in striking distance of the Lions for most of Friday’s (April 23) doubleheader opener, trailing 2-0 after three innings and 3-0 after four innings.

But Franklin County scored two insurance runs each in the fifth and sixth innings to break the game open. East Jackson was no-hit in the loss by Kayne Jinks, who struck out 13 Eagles.

Myers pointed to one of the more frustrating moments in the loss. The Eagles had runners on first and second with no outs in the first inning but hit into a rare triple play.

“I looked at coach (Caleb) Hardy and said, 'Anything that can go wrong has' … I don’t know if that’s something you feel just because of our struggles,” Myers said.

The Eagles also made matters tougher by committing eight errors. East Jackson starter Braydn Redding threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing only three earned runs despite surrendering seven scores. He allowed six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Unlike Games 1 and 2 of the series, Game 3 got away from the Eagles quickly. Franklin County plated all 15 of its runs in the first three innings, including 10 in the third, while East Jackson was limited to one hit.

Moving forward to next year, Myers said his team has some growing to do.

“As a program, we’ve got to get mentally tough,” Myers said. “We’ve got to compete every pitch. That’s something that kind of stands out to me.”

The Eagles did, of course, gain the experience of having played against three top-10 teams in region play.

“I definitely think that experience, and being in some of those situations, will definitely play off down the road for sure,” Myers said. “That’s the hope anyway.”

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