By JOEL COLEMAN
ACKERMAN – It's safe to say that Eupora had a productive Tuesday night playing on the road at Ackerman.
Not only did the Eagles record a win over the rival Indians, Eupora also wrapped up the Class 2A, Region 4 championship with its 9-7 triumph.
Charles Morton paved the way for the Eagles offensively in the victory, putting together a 4-for-5 performance that included two home runs, a double, two RBIs and three runs scored.
"When (Morton) stays back on the ball and gets his pitch, when he's selective but aggressive, he can really hit," said Eupora head coach Lee Berryhill.
Morton made his presence felt from the game's beginning, connecting for the first of his two solo homers in first inning off of Ackerman's freshman starting pitcher Coty Weaver.
Yet perhaps Morton's biggest hit all night was one that didn't leave the park.
Down 1-0, Ackerman battled back to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second on a two-run home run from Weaver.
With the Indians seemingly grabbing momentum, Morton stepped to the plate to lead off the top of the third and promptly slapped a double off of Weaver that began a three-run rally for the Eagles as Eupora reclaimed their lead at 4-2.
"With high school kids, a lot of the game is momentum that gives you confidence," said Berryhill. "The more confidence you have, the better you'll perform. To come back and retake the lead right there was huge. We got the momentum back on our side and took it away from (Ackerman)."
Eupora (13-2, 7-0 in Class 2A, Region 4) extended its lead over the course of the fourth and fifth innings.
Morton put the Eagles up 5-2 with his two-out homer in the fourth before Corey Richardson, who finished with three RBIs, knocked in a pair of runs with a fifth inning single to put Eupora up 7-2.
However, Ackerman (7-10, 4-3 in Class 2A, Region 4) didn't back down.
Pinch-hitter Logan Black laced a single to left to lead off the bottom of the fifth, sparked a four-run frame for the Indians the pulled Ackerman back to within one at 7-6.
That was as close as the Indians would get.
Eupora scored two more times in the seventh to pull ahead 9-6, and while Cain Young, pitching in relief of Eagles starter Jeremy Wright, allowed a run in Ackerman's half of the frame and saw the potential tying run come to the plate, Eupora held on for the win.
"We competed, we just made too many mistakes," said Ackerman head coach Brad Mitchell. "Mistakes that you can't make this time of year."
Aside from Ackerman's miscues, Morton's bat also played a vital part in helping his club clinch the divsion crown.
"I just relaxed more than I have at times earlier this season," said Morton. "I've just been taking a lot of batting practice too, and I credit most everything to my teammates for throwing to me."
While the district championship is locked up, Morton says his team doesn't need to change anything going forward.
"We need to approach the rest of our games the same way," said Morton. "We don't need to get out of what we've been doing. We need to play hard every game so it just becomes natural to us and we don't start making mistakes."