Jack Kuzmicki Oak Hall
Jack Kuzmicki (10) hit his third home run of the season to help lift the Oak Hall Eagles to their thirteenth victory of the season on April 18.

Oak Hall Lights Up The Bats In 13-8 Win Over Eagle’s View

In the first four innings of Tuesday’s game between the Oak Hall Eagles and Eagle’s View Warriors, neither team could find a way to get ahead. Each inning, the Warriors would put runs on the board, and the Eagles always proceeded to get them right back. Eventually, Oak Hall took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. They never gave the lead back from there.

The Eagles took home a 13-8 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday afternoon. Jack Kuzmicki led the way for Oak Hall, going 3-for-3 at the plate with five RBIs and two runs scored. He also knocked out the go-ahead home run for the Eagles in the fifth inning.

Harrison Beach and Neil Ruth also finished with three hits each for Oak Hall. Beach secured four RBIs along the way while Ruth scored three runs for the Eagles. Beach and Ruth also each finished the day with a triple to provide some fireworks for Oak Hall’s offense.

On the mound, the Eagles rode a combined effort to victory. Kuzmicki got the start and pitched for three innings, allowing six hits, five runs (four earned) and one walk. Jack Steen then replaced him for the subsequent two innings and gave up five hits, three runs and two walks.

Eventually, Oak Hall closer Ethan Szlachetka took to the mound in the top of the sixth inning. Szlachetka had missed over a month after sustaining a right knee injury on March 1. In spite of his time away, he did not miss a beat in his first game pitching since the injury.

Szlachetka pitched the final two innings of the game for the Eagles. He only allowed one hit, three walks and zero runs to close the book on the Warriors.

Both Teams Tussle for Control

The first inning set the tone for a high-scoring matchup between the two teams. After Kuzmicki hit back-to-back batters with pitches, the Warriors knocked in two RBI singles to take a 2-0 lead. The Eagles responded with a two-RBI double from Steen in the bottom of the first to tie the score back up.

The Warriors snatched the lead right back in the following inning. Brett Corbitt sent a line drive into left field for an RBI double to get back on the board. Two at-bats later, Brenden Brunson drove in two more runs with a single into left. Eagle’s View had jumped back out to a 5-2 lead.

Once again, Oak Hall got all of their runs back in the bottom of the inning. After two quick outs to lead things off, Neil Ruth knocked a single into center field for the team’s first hit of the inning. Jackson Beach followed him up with a walk to give the Eagles two runners on base.

After Ruth advanced to third on a wild pitch and Jackson Beach stole second, Harrison Beach cracked a deep ball into the outfield for a triple. Both runners scored, and Harrison Beach made it home on a line drive single from Jack Kuzmicki in the following at-bat. All of a sudden, the game was tied back up, this time at 5-5.

“Every time Eagle’s View scored, we matched [them], and we kept matching,” Eagles head coach Kevin Maris said.

Kuzmicki Breaks the Stalemate

After a quiet third inning for both sides, Eagle’s View got back on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. After the Warriors landed runners on base via a single and another hit-by-pitch, pinch hitter Mason Williams knocked a hard ground ball past second base to bring in both runs.

Not to be outdone, the Eagles evened up the score yet again in the bottom of the fourth. Jackson Beach led off with a double into left field, and Kuzmicki hit a single up the middle to drive him home. Kuzmicki eventually scored on a hard ground ball single from Gavin Jones. For the third time that afternoon, Oak Hall had made it another tie ballgame.

In the top of the fifth, the Warriors tacked on one more run via a sacrifice fly from Williams to reclaim an 8-7 lead. This time, however, the Eagles went above and beyond in their response. Ruth led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a triple, and Jackson Beach landed on first with another walk. Enter Jack Kuzmicki into the batter’s box.

Kuzmicki built up the count to 2-0. Beach swiftly stole second base on the second pitch Kuzmicki got, giving him two runners in scoring position. Kuzmicki did not even need it.

On the next pitch he saw, he let his swing rip. The second the ball left his bat, he knew it was gone. Every person in attendance knew it was gone. As he flipped his bat back towards the dugout and jogged towards first base, the ball flew over the left field wall. Oak Hall had now taken a 10-8 lead.

“It was a situation where we were down a run, and we needed a hit,” Kuzmicki said. “He threw that fastball inside, and I wasn’t going to miss it.”

Szlachetka’s Stellar Return

Now holding on to their first lead of the game, the Eagles needed to find a way to keep it. With Kuzmicki and Steen having already faced plenty of batters on the day, they opted for a fresh arm on the mound in the sixth inning. Just like that, Ethan Szlachetka received the call to the bullpen, and it was officially time for his return.

“Coach told me yesterday that I was going to be third [to pitch] going into the game,” Szlachetka said. “I wasn’t expecting to go as long as I went for, and I wasn’t expecting to get in that early, but I knew I had a chance of going in, so I wanted to be ready… Getting back out was so exciting, and it feels so good to be back.”

In perhaps the finest pitching performance of the day, Szlachetka was the only pitcher for either team to not allow any runs to score. He also only gave up one hit on the day, whereas every other pitcher on both sides gave up multiple hits.

After allowing a single to the first batter he faced and a walk two at-bats later, Szlachetka faced a difficult situation on the mound early on. With one out already on the board, the Warriors opted for a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Szlachetka intentionally walked the next batter, and with two outs now on the board, he forced a pop out to second base to strand all three runs.

Oak Hall Finishes The Day Strong

By the bottom of the sixth inning, the Eagles had taken full control of the game. Following walks from Troy Freeman and Brody Beaupre, Neil Ruth knocked in a grounder to tack another run onto Oak Hall’s lead. Harrison Beach followed him up with a line drive into left to score two more runs. By the end of the inning, the Eagles’ lead sat at 13-8.

In the seventh inning, Szlachetka had the Warriors completely under wraps. Batter number one went down swinging on strikes. Batter number two flew out to center field after just two pitches. Szlachetka did allow a walk to the third batter he faced, but he immediately made up for it by forcing a ground out to third base for out number three. Ballgame.

The Eagles will return to Roger Maris Field on Friday to take on the Trenton Tigers. In their previous matchup earlier this season, Oak Hall squeezed by with a 3-2 win on Trenton’s home turf. They will now have a chance for the season series sweep against the 16-4 Tigers.

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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