EUGENE, Mo.— The Russellville Indians (5-2) lost 2-1 to the Eugene Eagles (3-4) in a game where both team's pitchers had big games.
Eugene took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after a single into right field. The Indians had a chance to tie the game in the top of the third inning. Nick Thompson hit a one out double to center field and advanced to third base after a Eugene error at the very next at bat, which also allowed Mason Stewart to reach first base safely. But the Indians could not capitalize on the scoring chance as the inning ended after a strikeout and a groundout to the Eagles' shortstop.
In the bottom of the third inning, Eugene would have a scoring chance with runners on second and first and one out, but Matthew Miller would force a fly out then get a strikeout for Russellville to end the inning.
Pitching and defense would keep Russellville in the game. In the fourth inning, the team was able to get out of an inning where Eugene had two runners on base, thanks to three strikeouts by Dawson Koch.
Russellville head coach Lucas Branson said pitching is a strength for the team.
"Our strengths are what we can do on the mound, and we are really solid defensively so that is something that has to continue to stay at that level," Branson said. "We expect to keep teams under a couple runs a game, and we just have to string quality at-bats together better than what we did in this game."
It would stay a 1-0 game until the fifth inning, where in the top half of the inning the Indians put together back-to-back doubles by Dawson Koch and Thompson tied the game at 1-1. Stewart then hit a single to right field, but Thompson was thrown out at home plate trying to score by a throw from the Eagles' right fielder Javan Steinhardt to keep the game tied.
Eugene would retake the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning after a single into right field by Billy Parr to give Eugene a 2-1 lead.
Russellville would get the tying run onto first base after Thompson hit a two out single on a full count in the top of the seventh inning. It was Thompson's third hit of the game. But a groundout by Stewart would be the final out of the game.
Thompson went 3-4 on the game with an RBI; Stewart went 2-4 in the game; Dawson Koch and Landon Plochberger both went 1-3 in the game.
The Indians struck out seven times in the game as a team.
Branson said the team's offense is trying to get up to speed.
"Right now, our offense is still trying to get up to speed with what we expect," Branson said. "Our guys are working to get their confidence at the plate and being comfortable in the batter's box. I expect in the near future we will start really putting things together."
On the mound, Miller pitched three innings and gave up one run on three hits, two walks and struck out five. Koch pitched three innings, gave up one run on four hits, and struck out five as well. Eugene's Tyler Renn went seven innings and gave up one run on seven hits, and struck out seven.
Branson said the team could take a few things away from the loss.
"We have to be able to move on and know that every inning at-bat is important in a close game. Our guys competed, and we know what we are up against every time we step on the field getting the opponent's best shot," Branson said.