The Eagles pounced for eight runs in the first inning and scored in five of the seven innings, which left them just enough breathing space to claim a 14-10 win at Cloverdale.
Rob Gibson, who was a perpetual menace to the Clovers all game long, led off with a single. Seth Hammond grounded to Clover pitcher Josh Burdette, but his throw to second went awry and both runners were safe.
After a walk to Grant Zimmerman, J.D. Briones smashed a double to plate two and started the Eagle scoring spree. Cody Heller singled in Zimmerman before back-to-back walks to Aaron Parker and Tanner Thompson forced in Briones.
Logan White hit a sacrifice fly to score Heller before Burdette struck out the ninth batter Justin Bumgardner. Gibson stepped back into the batters box and promptly turned on a Burdette offering for a three-run home run that gave the Eagles a commanding 8-0 lead.
Burdette finally retired Hammond to get out of the inning, throwing over 40 pitches before he recorded the final out.
Cloverdale's reply came quickly when Jordan Brinkman led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run off of Eagle starter Parker. Parker fanned three of the next four batters to get out of the inning without any further damage.
Burdette settled down following the first, striking out eight batters over the next three innings while giving up two more runs to Bumgardner and Gibson in the third.
The Clovers would get three back in the fourth. After the first two batters didn't leave the infield, Brinkman was walked, stole second and was driven in by Ethan Atwood. Brian Dale then hammer a two-run homer over the right field fence to cut the deficit down to six.
Burdette was replaced by Will Andersen on the mound to start the fifth and was quickly greeted by the eager Eagle bats. White led off with a double before Bumgardner was out when catcher Austin Mannan of Cloverdale made a great leaping catch near the backstop.
Gibson smacked his fourth hit of the night to advance White. While on first, Gibson managed to unsettle Andersen, who was called for a balk, allowing White to score and Gibson to move to second. Hammond reached on an error before Zimmerman smoked a double to drive in two more.
Brinoes then hit a single to move Zimmerman around but a base running fiasco allowed the Clovers to turn two. Briones made a break for second but Atwood's throw beat the Eagle first baseman by several feet.
Zimmerman, meanwhile, stopped at third but broke to home in the middle of Atwood's throw. Shortstop Frankie Skiles, who had just tagged Briones, fired home and forced Zimmerman into a pickle, allowing Mannan to tag him out and end the inning.
Cloverdale got two back in the bottom of the inning as Shawn Shipp singled to lead off, moved to second on a Parker balk and scored when Skiles' hit to shortstop was bobbled. Skiles then stole second and third and scored when Jordan Hayden hit into a fielder's choice.
The Clovers added another in the sixth when a Dale smacked a double of the fence in center field and Skiles followed up two batters later with a double of his own.
South Putnam added one more when, once again, Gibson got on base, stole second and third, then scored when a ground ball by Hammond eluded Dale in the infield, capping off a 5-5, 5 run, 4 RBI day.
Cloverdale made things interesting in the seventh after pinch-hitter Cody Carter was hit by a pitch. Trevor Lockwood was walked before Brinkman singled in pinch-runner Brody Pfaff. Lockwood took home on a wild pitch before Atwood hit a fielder's choice to bring in Brinkman.
Dale hit another single but Andersen grounded out to Zimmerman to end a wild two-game set in which both teams combined for 51 runs, but split the two games.
A blistering start and better fielding made the difference between the two games, according to South Putnam head coach Ryan Gilman.
"We came out and did a much better job in the field. We had several errors last night and cut those down tonight. We jumped out to an early lead in the first inning but Cloverdale did a good job of hanging in there and battling back to make it interesting in the later innings," Gilman said.
"It's early in the season, so you're trying to watch pitch count and all that. We're still trying to do the things that we're preaching in practice and seeing it. One of the things we really wanted to get done was cut down on the errors, which we did."
Cloverdale head coach Bryan Archer pointed out that the first inning really put his squad in a bind.
"They came out ready to hit. I thought Josh (Burdette) did pretty well in the first inning. We talked about throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count. They just did a good job of hitting the ball," Archer said.
"We made a few miscues in the first inning, like getting one out instead of trying to turn two. There were just a few things that made that inning go a little bit longer then it should have defensively.
"With a good hitting team like that, if you have a few miscues, if you give them extra chances, they're going to take advantage of that, and they did. That put us in a hole for the rest of the game," Archer added.
Archer was quick to note that his squad continued to battle, something they will need to continue to do while in the middle of four consecutive games.
"That's something that I've really seen out of this group and I'm extremely proud of them. I've got a group of boys who don't give up because that could have very easily been a wash. They've dedicated themselves and they're not going to give in," Archer said.
With Shakamak Thursday and Eminence Friday, Archer pointed out what the plan was for the Clovers.
"The one goal we're going to have is to be defensively sound. That's pitching and defense through everyone out on the field, first inning through the last inning. That's going to be our goal and we talked about that after the game," Archer said.
"We have to start from the first inning and be ready to go. That includes the pitchers and the defenders, infielders and outfields. That's what we're really going to concentrate on tomorrow."
The Eagles, hosting South Vermillion Friday, would be best served by continuing to implement the work in practice to the games, according to Gilman.
"We just want to improve each game. We want to do the things we're doing in practice, still want to be hitting the ball hard someplace, still wanting to be fielding and throwing strikes and dominating the routine play," he said.
S. Putnam 802 030 1 -- 14 13 2
Cloverdale 100 321 3 -- 10 12 2
WP -- Parker (1-0)
LP -- Burdette (0-1)
2B -- Dale, Shipp (CL), Briones, White, Bumgardner (SP)
HR -- Brinkman, Dale (CL), Gibson (SP)
Next Game -- South Putnam hosts South Vermillion Friday starting at 5 p.m. Cloverdale hosts Shakamak Thursday starting at 4:30 p.m.