Eagles golden in extras: Callaham drives in two late runs to defeat Devils

Mar. 29—RUSSELL — It took Johnson Central extra innings to take its first lead of the night on Friday.

But once the Golden Eagles had it, they never looked back, defeating Russell 4-2 in eight frames.

"They just kept grinding," Johnson Central assistant coach Alex Ward said. "(Kyle) Mokas is a heck of a pitcher, he throws strikes and pounds the zone. So our offense wasn't flowing but you just got to stay in it, which is what we did. Both teams had chances to win. Finally, somebody gets a big hit and that's what these games come down to. You step up at the end, you grind it out, and you just work."

The loss is the eighth straight for the Red Devils.

"They just got the timely hits that we didn't," "They got the big two-run home run to tie it up and then the two-run single in the in the eighth that kind of broke our backs. They just got the timely hits. We had every opportunity and just couldn't come through tonight."

The Red Devils kept the Golden Eagles from capitalizing early, picking off courtesy runner Braxton Perry to end the first frame.

Russell pulled a double play in the second frame to keep Johnson Central scoreless through the first two.

Conversely, the Red Devils were turned away quickly in the first two frames thanks to a pair of 1-2-3 innings.

Russell finally got the offense moving in the bottom of the third when Kyle Mokas hit a shot into left field to bring Caden Mitchell home to take a 1-0 lead.

Mokas performed well on the mound for Russell, throwing 80 pitches for 49 strikes, with four strikeouts on the night.

"He's outstanding," Rice said. "He pitched well enough to win, we just didn't score enough runs. He's our number one, hands down, and he's going to get the ball in big games against big opponents. He's done well this season and tonight was the best outing he's had so. It's just a shame that we couldn't come away with a victory for him tonight."

Russell added to the lead in the bottom of the fifth following a close call at home plate.

Parker Mitchell, who reached on a monster triple to centerfield, was initially called out following a tag by Golden Eagles catcher Brock Butcher.

Butcher dropped the ball following the tag, which led to Russel coach Tim Rice imploring the home plate umpire to conference with the umpire in the field.

After a discussion, it was ruled that Butcher dropped the ball in the course of the tag out and Mitchell was ruled safe and a run was tallied.

Johnson Central coach Shawn Hall was visibly frustrated by the change in the call.

After a few minutes of Hall protesting the call, he was ejected from the game.

It didn't take long for the Golden Eagles to bounce back from the play.

In the sixth inning, Butcher cranked out a two-run home run to tie it 2-2 and breathe new life into his team.

"That's your senior leader stepping up," Ward said of Butcher. "He's just a dude. That's what he is, he makes plays. He's always in it. We've got a young team, so they're trying to learn how to win these games and that's where you really need somebody like Brock to step up. That's how younger guys learn, they watch a guy like Brock do what he does."

It remained knotted into the bottom of the seventh inning where Russell looked to send Johnson Central back home with a loss.

The Red Devils loaded the bases with just one out but failed to get anyone home.

Johnson Central kicked off the extra inning with a pair of runs courtesy of Kyler Callaham that gave the Golden Eagles their first lead.

The Red Devils tried to stay afloat in the bottom of the eighth, but Butcher, who was called on to pitch to start the frame, took care of business and turned Russell away without a run.

"I just hope they learned that they're good enough to do this," Ward said. "When things don't go perfectly, we can still overcome. That's what you have to do. The whole goal is to get to Lexington. You're going to be in bad situations trying to get there. This should show them you can overcome those situations."

Russell falls to 1-8 with the loss, however half of those losses were decided by two or fewer runs. Rice hopes his team can focus more on the goal of getting better, rather than the record.

"We need to keep working and grinding," Rice said. "I'm hopeful they see the big picture, because it's hard to be 1-8. Hopefully they see what we're trying to do with this tough schedule to get us ready for April and May."

J. CENTRAL 000 002 02 — 4 4 1

RUSSELL 001 100 00 — 2 3 2

Rose, Montgomery (5), Butcher (8) and Butcher (8), McKenzie (8); Mokas, Brinkman (8) and Whitt, Anchetta (3). W — Butcher. L — Brinkman. 3B — P. Mitchell (R). HR — Butcher (JC).

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