(Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)
David Wheeler started the winning rally with a walk and was forced out at second base by winning pitcher Jeremy Coats. Coats stole second base and rode home when Stephens laced a two out single to left field to give the Thunderbirds the lead for good. Ricky Jones drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Losing pitcher Beau Hogan then uncorked a wild pitch, allowing both runners to move up. In an attempt to throw lead runner Ricky Jones out at third, catcher Tyler Timms overthrew third baseman Nick Bagley, allowing Jones to scamper home and giving Cross County an 8-6 cushion.
The Thunderbirds added a run in the sixth and put the game away with a three run seventh inning to improve their record to 3-0 on the year.
Coats went the distance on the mound to gain his first win of the season, striking out five and walking three. The right-hander was tagged for five earned runs while giving up five hits.
Stephens led the Thunderbirds with three hits while Courtney Robinson and Tyler Moore cranked out two hits and drove in two RBIs apiece. Michael Bunch also added a two-run single while Coats helped his own cause with an RBI hit. Cross County finished with nine hits on the day.
Riverside jumped on top in the bottom of the first inning when Glen Graham laced a two run single, scoring Hogan and shortstop Garrett Weaver, who had both singled earlier in the inning.
Cross County came back to post five runs in the top of the second, highlighted by Robinson's two run single that gave the T-Birds a 4-2 lead.
Riverside rallied with four runs in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of four Thunderbird errors. The big hit of the inning came off the bat of Hogan, who ripped a two run single up the middle, tying the score at 5-5. Glen Graham's RBI grounder gave the Rebels a 6-5 lead.
Cross County came right back in the top of the third when Tyler Moore delivered an RBI single to knot the score at 6-6.
Riverside was led at the plate by Graham, who accounted for two hits and three RBIs. Hogan finished the day with two singles, two RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Weaver had one hit and scored a pair of runs while Bagley and Cody O'Guinn both scored runs. Caleb McCluskey also had an RBI for the Rebels.
Hogan took the loss for the Rebels, going 4 2/3 innings in relief, giving up five runs while surrendering four hits. The junior right hander struck out five and walked four. Timms started the game for Riverside, but lasted only an inning and a third, giving up five runs, three of which were earned. Timms was tagged for three hits and also walked a pair of batters. Weaver came on to finish up for Riverside, allowing one unearned run along with one hit. Weaver struck out two and walked one batter.
The Rebels (0-3) will hit the road this week as they take on East Poinsett County on Monday afternoon in a 3AA South Conference game. Riverside will play another league game Tuesday afternoon when they visit Bay. The Rebels will close out the week with a Wednesday afternoon trip to play arch-rival Buffalo Island Central at Monette.