Fairland starts tourney with win

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005

It's not how you start but how you finish.

Robbie Easterling shook off a shaky start as he limited Athens to just two hits in five innings as the Fairland All-Star rolled to a 13-5 win Friday morning in the first round of the Junior League state tournament.

Athens got three runs to start the game, but Easterling and relievers Ethan Long and Tyler Thackston combined to shut down their opponents' bats.

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"We didn't play well. We relaxed (after getting a big lead)," Fairland manager John Bond said. "(Easterling) was very nervous at first and the defense let him down a little and he walked some to compound his problems.

"But (Easterling) battled them. I'm proud of him. He kept his head. He could have folded."

Athens jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning on just one hit.

Grant Smith singled to start the game, Zane Summers reached on an error and Jared Cline was safe on a fielder's choice to load the bases.

Zeke Smith, John Shriner and Dana Gilkey all walked to force in runs before Easterling worked out of the inning.

But Fairland came right back with five runs in the bottom of the inning.

Matt Bloomfield was safe on an error, Long singled and Adam Berry tied the game with a three-run homer.

"Adam Berry's home run was the biggest hit of the game. It got us going," Bond said.

Easterling was hit by a pitch, Thackston was safe on an error, Michael Lamb doubled home the runners and then score when Zach Matasich reached on an error.

The lead went to 7-3 in the second inning when Bloomfield was safe on an error and then Long and Berry followed with back-to-back run-scoring doubles.

After a scoreless third inning, each team scored in the fourth inning.

Smith was safe on a two-base error and scored on a bad pickoff throw as Athens got within 7-4.

Fairland answered with two runs in its half of the inning.

Dan Puckett singled, Long was safe on a fielder's choice to put runners at second and third. Easterling helped his own cause with a two-run single.

Fairland made it 11-4 in the fifth inning with two more runs.

Zach Jordan doubled and Tyler Godby singled him home. Long was hit by a pitch, Berry walked and Easterling reached on a fielder's choice as a run scored.

In the sixth inning, Fairland got its final two runs of the game.

Matasich was hit by a pitch, moved up on a wild pitch, took third on a throwing error and scored on Tyler Duty's ground out.

Bloomfield then walked and came around to score when Long was safe on an error.

Athens final run came in the seventh inning on walks to Smith and Cline and a throwing error on a play at first base when a batter struck out but the pitch wasn't handled cleanly forcing a throw.

But Thackston struck out the next two batters to end the game.

The Fairland All-Stars had 12 hits with Thackston going 2-for-2 and Long and Berry 2-4.



John Shriner, Jared Cline (4), Zane Summers (5), Matt Sheets (6) and Daniel Rankin. Robbie Easterling, Ethan Long (6), Tyler Thackston (7) and Zach Matasich, Tyler Godby (4). W-Easterling. L-Shriner. 2B-Fairland: Michael Lamb, Ethan Long, Adam Berry, Zach Jordan. HR-Fairland: Adam Berry. Hitting-Athens: Grant Smith 1-3, Zane Summers 1-3; Fairland: Dan Puckett 1-1, Ethan Long 2-4, Adam Berry 2-4, Robbie Easterling 1-3, Tyler Thackston 2-2, Michael Lamb 1-4, Josh Zundel 1-1, Zach Jordan 1-4, Tyler Duty 1-3.