AVALON — Runs were a luxury, not a premium, for the Avalon Eagles Tuesday afternoon against the Italy Gladiators. Behind a two-hit complete game from starting pitcher Eric Smith and at least one run in every inning, (12-2, 5-1) No. 3 Avalon run-ruled visiting (3-10, 1-5) Italy, 11-1.
The win was the second in two days for the ballclub led by first-year head coach John De La Garza, as the Eagles were forced to make up a game regularly scheduled for last Friday against Covington on Monday afternoon. The Eagles soundly defeated the Owls 14-0 behind a combined no-hitter from Alex Hernandez (1 IP, 2 K), Landon Kriska (2 IP, 3 K) and Jacob Davidson (1 IP, K).
For Smith (6-0, 0.85 ERA), the Tuesday win was his sixth in as many starts on the bump for the Eagles. The righty also recorded nine strikeouts Tuesday afternoon to run his season total to 46 punch outs in 33 innings of work.
The only blemish on the Smith outing came with one Gladiator swing of the lumber in the top of the fourth inning. The line-drive home run launched to center field by Clay Riddle was just the third earned run Smith has allowed in 22 innings of district play this season. The big fly was the first for Riddle this season and the second of the year for the Gladiators.
Avalon started its barrage of runs with a two-spot in the bottom of the first inning — kick-started by a Smith walk and followed two pitches later with a triple off the bat of Austyn Johnson. The three-bagger was one of three hits for Johnson, who finished the ballgame 3-for-4 with four RBIs. His courtesy runner, Jose Morones, scored for the sixth time this season four pitches later on a passed ball — also ball four to Clayton Hopgood — for a 2-0 Avalon lead.
The Eagles scored three more in the second inning on an error and a Johnson single to right field and tacked on another run in the third inning.
But in the bottom of the fourth inning, it was a Landon Kriska who supplied the biggest blow to the Gladiators of the ballgame.
On a 1-2 count, the Eagle second baseman launched his first home run of the year to right field — and did it in grand style. The grand salami by Kiska cleared the bases and put the Eagles ahead 10-1. A second Johnson single in the bottom of the fifth inning scored Dylan Chambers for the mercy-rule win, 11-1.
The Eagles entered the game as the No. 3-ranked 1A team in the Txhighschoolbaseball.com poll and received a No. 2 ranking Wednesday morning from the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association. The Eagles are currently 3.5 games clear of (1-8, 1-5) Milford for one of two 1A playoff spots from District 15-2A, while district leading (11-2, 6-0) Abbott is currently the No. 1-ranked team in both polls.
The Eagles return to the diamond Friday on the road against Itasca. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith