By JOEL COLEMAN
EUPORA – Hamilton pitcher Chase Reeves is tough enough to beat when his offense gives him minimal support.
GIve the Ole Miss signee seven first inning runs and he's near unstoppable.
Such was the case Friday night in Eupora as the Hamilton offense chased Eupora starting pitcher Jeremy Wright after just eight batters and the Lions cruised to an 11-0 win in the Class 2A playoffs.
Reeves struck out 12 and surrendered just one hit in the six-inning, mercy-rule shortened contest.
As sharp as the southpaw was, it wasn't really necessary after the Lions (16-5) put up seven runs before the Eagles (17-4) even got to the plate.
Wright lasted just 1/3 of an inning for Eupora, suffering the loss as he allowed four walks and three hits in Hamilton's big early rally.
Cain Young relieved Wright and pitched effectively the rest of the way for the Eagles, but Eupora's hole proved to be far too much against Reeves.
"It's a lot easier to pitch when you have that kind of lead," said Reeves. "If you make a mistake here or there, it's not going to hurt you. So you just have to be relaxed out there and throw strikes."
Reeves' success was just part of Eupora's trouble in the contest as Eagles head coach Lee Berryhill saw his team put up what he deemed an "uncharacteristic" all-around performance.
"Our pitching wasn't what it normally is and our defense wasn't what it normally is," said Berryhill. "Neither was our hitting. Of course Reeves did a good job on the mound and came at us with a good breaking ball and spotted his fastball.
"We hoped to compete and get the ball in play better than what we did, but unfortunately, we didn't."
Wright was the lone Eagle to get a hit against Reeves, punching a two-out single up the middle in the fourth inning.
By that juncture of the contest however, the Lions seemed well on their way towards the win, thanks in large part to Wright's earlier mound struggles.
"(Wright) has been consistent for us on the mound throughout the year," said Berryhill. "He's a big part of why we are where we are. So it wasn't like him to be like that today, but baseball, you've got to have a short memory and bounce back."
Eupora will begin trying to dig out of their 1-0 deficit in the best-of-three series today at 1 p.m. in Hamilton. If the Eagles win, the series will return to Eupora on Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Whoever advances from the series will go on to play either East Webster or Mantachie in the North State finals.
If that team is Eupora, odds are the Eagles will have to get through Reeves again at some point.
That could be bad news if Reeves duplicates his Friday outing.
"If he's on, he's good, and he was pretty good (Friday)," said Hamilton head coach Lewis Earnest.