EAST LAKE — Saturday’s final of the Lee Byers Invitational baseball tournament arrived with a blast of winter. The afternoon temperature quickly dropped as a strong wind blew in from the outfield.
East Lake, the host, remained resourceful with its baserunning high jinks. There were first-to-third dashes, daring leads and stolen bases. But there also were solid hits sprinkled in during the Eagles’ 8-1 victory over Ridgewood.
It is the first time East Lake (3-0) has won its tournament in four years.
“Hittingwise we’re very unselfish,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said. “We have a real solid lineup that can put hits together. We still use some of the small-ball stuff, but that’s more in the back of the game plan.”
There were no homers on this wind-whipped afternoon, just resourceful hitting and a knack for capitalizing on mistakes by the Rams (2-1).
In the bottom of the first inning Ian Lisle doubled, then scored on a double by Grant Hodges to give East Lake a 1-0 lead. Hodges’ hit sailed over the rightfielder’s head.
“Grant hit a shot,” Genna said. “Any other day, without that wind, and it would have been in the trees.”
Eagles starter Ryan Wall, a sophomore, handcuffed the Rams through the first two innings. In the third, Wall allowed his first two hits.
The first was a single by Tim Osborne, who then stole second. The second hit was a single by Robert Cummines that scored Osborne to tie the game.
In the fourth inning, East Lake’s Doug Rovello singled with two outs and stole second. He then scored on a single by Brad Deppermann that turned out to be the winning run.
The Eagles added another run in the fifth inning. In the sixth, the Eagles broke the game open, sending 10 batters up to the plate, drawing five walks, and scoring five runs.
Hodges went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a triple in the sixth that brought in three runs.
“We really wanted to come out and win this tournament,” Hodges said. “We haven’t even got to the finals the past two years. We have a lot of chemistry with this team and we’re all good hitters. It was a good way to start the season.”