"It was (a good win). Eminence came in and played really well. They made a lot of plays in the field. We put the ball in play. We've been struggling with strikeouts lately and only had six tonight, which is an improvement from 13 that we had at Cascade," head coach Ryan Gilman said.
Things started well for the Eagles as they scored one run in the bottom of the first inning. Starting pitcher Seth Hammond owned the Eels for the first three innings, sitting down nine straight batters to begin the game. Of the first nine batters, Hammond stuck out five and had South Putnam in complete control.
Fortunes reversed in the fourth inning as Eminence went on the offensive to take the lead.
The Eels scored two runs in the inning, and to add injury to insult, Eagle first baseman Trey Moore was hurt stretching out to secure the final out of the inning. What looked to be a blow to the team ultimately turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
After a three up and three down inning for the Eagles, Eminence added a run in the top of the fifth inning to take a 3-1 lead, but South Putnam answered in a big way.
Joe Waters reached on single and was waiting on base when catcher and lead-off hitter Rob Gibson came to the plate. Gibson took the fifth pitch offered and sent it sailing over the right-centerfield fence to knot the game at 3-all.
In addition to Gibson's blast, Gilman was impressed with his team's work ethic on Thursday.
"It was really nice to have Rob step up and hit one in the clutch there," he said. "They had us going and we got one and it's always nice having him coming up there. We hustled everything out -- that was a big thing. We never gave up, we never gave in and just did a really good job of keep fighting, keep plugging along and keep hustling everywhere.
"Even on infield hits we hustled down the line and made plays with our feet."
Hammond and the team had struggled in the middle three innings, but returned to form in the top of the sixth.
With a runner on first base, Hammond fielded the next hit, fired to shortstop Sawyer Arnold at second for the first out, who then threw to first to complete the 1-6-3 double play. Hammond struck out the next batter to close the inning.
The start of the bottom half wasn't what South Putnam hoped for as its first two batters recorded outs. But a resilient squad refused to give in, and Arnold got the rally started with a long double to left-centerfield. A single by Nick Scott planted two South Putnam runners on base.
Tanner Thompson, who replaced Moore in the lineup, came to the plate with Arnold standing on third. On the fourth pitch, Thompson hit a dribbler to the left of the pitcher, who couldn't handle it, and Arnold raced home for what proved to be the game-winning run.
The Eagles closed out the contest in the seventh inning and notched their second win of the season 4-3.
Hammond pitched a complete game. He recorded eight strikeouts and allowed five hits in the win. Gilman said his pitcher has been impressive so far this season.
"He did a really good job of keeping them off balance. Rob did a good job catching today too, but Seth, the last two times out, he's pitched well. He had a complete game shutout against South Vermillion and had a complete game tonight. He threw the ball well," Gilman said.
At South Putnam
Eminence 000 210 0 -- 3 5 0
South Putnam 100 02 1 -- 4 10 1
WP -- Hammond
HR -- Gibson (SP)
2B -- Arnold (SP), Hammond (SP)