Big fourth inning leads Arlington over Proctor
ARLINGTON — In baseball, one inning can totally change the complexion of a game.
Case in point: the Arlington baseball team's effort in the fourth inning Monday afternoon against rival Proctor.
The Eagles used a six-run outburst in the inning to lead them to an 11-6 win over the Phantoms.
Heading into the top of the fourth, Proctor held a 3-2 lead.
Arlington starting pitcher Jack Lane had been struggling a bit with command in the early innings and that trend followed him into the fourth. Lane walked the first three batters in the inning and loaded the bases with no outs.
Lane needed to bear down in that moment and the senior leader did just that. A pair of strikeouts and a flyout erased the potential damage and allowed the Eagles to go into their at-bats with a little bit of momentum.
"My team was keeping me calm out there on the mound," Lane said. "They were telling me to play my game how I know how to play. That's how I was able to get the next three batters."
"You could tell the team was struggling out there and for him to battle back like that sent shock waves through the team," said Arlington coach Jamie Wright. "They're trying to help each other out and piece things together and pick each other up when they're down."
That crucial stretch in the top of the inning carried over to the bottom half as the Eagles' bats came alive. The inning started with a Kolby Wilkins walk, Carter Campbell came up and picked up his first hit of the day. Another walk and a single put the Eagles in a good spot.
Following a strike out, nine-hole hitter Matthew Ritchie came up and singled to drive in a pair, giving the Arlington a two-run lead.
The big blow of the inning was a ball hit almost into the trees in left field by Lane. With the bases loaded, Lane crushed a ball to left and cleared the bases, reaching third with a triple.
"I wasn't hitting the ball great, so they were probably trying to come at me," Lane said. "Coach was telling us to take a pitch before we swing, but it was right in my wheelhouse and I had to swing."
Drawing four walks and notching four hits in the inning, it was a total team effort that put Arlington in control.
"It all started with Kolby [Wilkins] and then Carter [Campbell] getting his first hit on varsity," Lane said. "It just rallied from there."
Lane was lifted from the game in the fifth inning after throwing more than 100 pitches on the day. Despite allowing eight walks on the day, he was hard to hit for Proctor. Lane allowed just three hits and struck out 10 batters.
"[Jack] put it all out there," Wright said. "He really wanted to put on his own shoulders, but he's started to learn that he doesn't have to now. The team has really stepped up for him and he's seen it."
Wilkins came on in relief of Lane and picked up a save, allowing just one runner that Lane had walked to start the sixth to score over the last two innings.
The Eagles added three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to make Wilkins' job easier to close down the game in the seventh.
Ritchie was the only Arlington player with a multi-hit game, as he went 2-for-3 on the day. Wil Stewart made things happen in the lead-off spot. going 1-for-3, while also stealing two bags and driving in the Eagles' second run.
Arlington struggled out of the gate last spring, so a strong start like Monday's is an encouraging sign for an Eagles squad looking to make noise in Division IV this year.
"We came back looking to piece things one step at a time. These kids have been resilient and really taken to coaching," Wright said. "We're just looking to keep improving. It's been huge for them to come back and be able to put on a showing like that, especially to start the year."
Arlington improves to 1-0 with the win and plays White River Valley on the road Wednesday.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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