Jackson Beach rounding the bases for Oak Hall.
Jackson Beach (left) rounds the bases and greets his Oak Hall teammates at home plate following his first career home run.

Oak Hall Snags 18-16 Victory In Chaotic Season Debut Against P.K. Yonge

In the waning moments of Oak Hall’s game against the P.K. Yonge Blue Wave on Tuesday, star first baseman Jack Kuzmicki quipped that he believes the Eagles have a “game one curse.” For some reason, the team always makes more errors and plays sloppier in their season-opening games. And while that remained true this year, Oak Hall did not let that stop them from getting the W.

The Oak Hall Eagles defeated the P.K. Yonge Blue Wave in an 18-16 bloodbath on Tuesday night. The game lasted for over three hours, and both teams combined for 13 errors. Eight errors came from the Blue Wave, while the Eagles committed five of their own.

But where Oak Hall struggled defensively, they made up for it offensively. The team finished with 14 hits on the day in addition to six walks and 13 stolen bases. Jackson Beach led the way for the Eagles, going 2-for-5 at the plate with four RBIs and a clutch sixth-inning home run. Kuzmicki also had a strong offensive performance, hitting 2-for-3 on the day and driving in three runs.

Darion Medley and Jack Steen both had impressive debuts for the Eagles as well. Medley racked up five stolen bases and picked up an RBI in the second inning. Steen went 2-for-4 in the batter’s box and drove in two runs while pitching 3 1/3 innings. During his time on the mound, he allowed five hits and five runs (but only one earned run) and threw out four strikeouts.

Both Squads Come Firing Right Out Of The Gate

Medley led off for the Eagles and made it to first on an error from the P.K. Yonge infield. Despite two consecutive strikeouts for Oak Hall in the ensuing at-bats, Medley made it to third base on back-to-back stolen bases. With his speedster on third and two outs on the board, Eagles Head Coach Kevin Maris made a bold decision. He signaled for Medley to steal home.

Before the Blue Wave got off a single pitch in the at-bat, Medley took off running and charged home. With a high pitch from the Blue Wave, Medley did not even have to slide into the bag. He made it home safe, and he had scored his first run as an Eagle. And he could not have been happier with how it all went down.

“Coach saw an opportunity with two outs… and he trusted me with that play,” Medley said. “It felt great to celebrate [at home plate] with the boys.”

The Eagles tacked on another run in the top of the first following another error from the Blue Wave. However, the Eagles went on to struggle with some sloppiness of their own in the bottom of the inning. An arid throw home from third base allowed two runs to score for the Blue Wave, who reclaimed a 3-2 lead after one inning of play.

Unfazed by the bottom of the first, Oak Hall went right back to work in the batter’s box. After Aaron Akins scored on a throwing error to tie up the game, Kuzmicki belted out a two-RBI single to take back the lead. Newcomer Gavin Jones chipped in with a double two at-bats later to drive in another two runs, giving the Eagles a 7-3 lead.

Kuzmicki praised the team’s collective performance at the plate on Tuesday night. He credited the offensive surge as a key component of their victory.

“In situations like that, where they’re scoring five to six runs every inning and we’re not getting it done on the field like we should, being able to rely on our offense… that’s a really big strength we have,” Kuzmicki said. “We were one through nine hammering the ball. I can’t think of anyone who didn’t an RBI or didn’t get a hit today. Everyone was a part of the offense.”

More Back-And-Forth Throughout The Evening

The Blue Wave evened things back up in the bottom of the second. With three hits (and two runs scored on an error) in the inning, P.K. Yonge’s offense managed to keep up with Oak Hall’s early on in the game. Nevertheless, the Eagles did put some distance between them and their opponent in the third inning. Beach and Kuzmicki knocked in a pair of singles to bring three runs home.

Meanwhile, Steen had taken over on the mound and kept the Blue Wave at bay for a while, only allowing one run total in the third and fourth innings. He had a tough job in holding off a talented P.K. Yonge offense. Despite plenty of distractions and a stressful situation, Steen did everything in his power to solely remain focused on the task at hand alongside his catcher.

“I was just trying to stay calm,” Steen said. “P.K. was trying to get in my head, they were yelling… But me and Brody [Beaupre] were just pitching the ball.”

The Eagles did manage to add another run to their lead in the fifth inning following another error from the Blue Wave infield. However, things took a turn for the worse after that. After securing a flyout in the first plate appearance of the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles gave up a walk and a pair of errors to load the bases.

The Blue Wave then racked up back-to-back-to-back singles to tie up the game. One at-bat later, they reclaimed the lead after scoring on a passed ball. Oak Hall quickly got two outs to finish the inning, but the damage had been done.

Oak Hall Rides Strong Sixth Inning To The Finish Line

With their backs against the wall, it was now or never. The Eagles needed some instant offense to retake the lead, hopefully for good this time. All of a sudden, things started clicking again in the batter’s box.

Neil Ruth knocks a single into center field. Emory Ezzell follows up with a grounder to the left to make it on base as well. Brody Beaupre brings Ruth home and sends Ezzell to third on a perfectly hit single of his own.

Suddenly, the game was tied again. And Steen had the perfect opportunity to put the Eagles back on top. And that he did. On the first pitch he saw, Steen blasted the ball out into center field to bring both runners home. Oak Hall now led 14-12. And they were far from done.

Just two plate appearances later, Jackson Beach entered the box. After building up the count to 3-1, Beach saw a pitch he liked and took it. That turned out to be a wise decision, as Beach executed a perfect swing that sent the ball sailing through the air and over the right-field wall for the first home run of his career.

Kuzmicki scored another run for the Eagles later in the inning after being hit by a pitch, giving them a 17-12 advantage. While Beach felt plenty of emotions after such a momentous milestone in his career, he was also just glad he put his team in a position to secure the win.

“It was such a tight game and a really important inning,” Beach said. “It just felt really good to get a couple of runs for my teammates… and it felt pretty good when it hit the top of the roof.

Holding The Blue Wave Off One Last Time

Despite the Eagles jumping out to their biggest lead of the night, P.K. Yonge refused to give in. They responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning to narrow the deficit to two. The Eagles mustered out another run in the top of the seventh following two more Blue Wave errors. It now all came down to the final three outs.

Gavin Jones took the mound for the Eagles, relieving Steen after a 74-pitch outing. He immediately secured a pop out in his first pitch of the inning. Things looked good in the following at-bat, as he went up 0-2 in the count. However, Blue Wave batter Aidan Mansfield did not plan on going down easily. Or at all, as a matter of fact.

Mansfield belted out a deep hit into right field that eventually flew over the fence, marking P.K. Yonge’s first home run of the evening. More importantly, however, he had also cut their deficit back down to two runs again.

Despite this burst of momentum for the Blue Wave, Jones quickly regained control on the mound. Following a fly out to center field in the subsequent at-bat, Jones struck out the final batter to put a bow on Oak Hall’s season-opening victory. It may have been an ugly win, but it was still a win. Coach Maris still has plenty of confidence in his squad and what they are capable of going forward.

“We’ll talk about this game [this week] and see where we can clean up some of the mistakes and miscues,” Maris said. “Each day, each game and each week, we’ll get better and better as we go.”

The Eagles will return to the diamond this Friday as they make their home debut at Roger Maris Field against the Gainesville Hurricanes. First pitch is set for 4:15 p.m.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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