Eastfield advances to championship round

Jayden Morgan collides with a Northern Essex player after stealing second base.

RORY MOORE, Photo Editor

GREENVILLE, Tenn. — The Eastfield Harvester Bees defeated the Northern Essex Knights 12-1 Wednesday at Pioneer Park after five innings. Their win advances them to the championship round of the 2023 NJCAA Division III World Series for the second consecutive year.

Eastfield (48-12) scored three runs in the first inning and expanded its lead as the game progressed.  They allowed one run by Northern Essex (39-8) in the closing inning.

Ian Roberts (5-0) pitched the entire game for Eastfield, striking out five batters and giving up four hits and one walk.

“The offense was giving me energy throughout the whole game,” he said. “I was just staying calm and doing what I do.”

Manny Moore led the Eastfield offense, going 2-for-3 with two runs and one RBI, while Jayden Morgan and River Curs scored two runs each. Cade Conway, Gus Witt, Angel Rodriguez, Hunter O’Shea, Griffin Tarter and Kyson Snelson scored one run each.

Moore said the team was not fazed by the fact that they were playing in an elimination game.

“We came out not pressured,” he said. “We just treated it like any other game. We played how we know how to play just like any other day.”

Moore also says he feels optimistic about playing the Gloucester Roadrunners again for the championship despite Eastfield’s 5-1 loss to them Tuesday. The Harvester Bees will have to beat them twice to win the championship.

“If there’s one team that can bounce back, it’s us,” he said. “We’ve done it many times this year. I think we can do it again.”

Eastfield Coach Michael Martin said he was pleased by how well his team performed.

“We started out really quick and took advantage of the situation they were in,” he said. “It was really easy to have better at bats because Northern Essex went really deep in their pitching staff and we did what we were supposed to do.”

Martin said offensive consistency will be the key to winning the championship.

“We’re gonna have to hit and have good at bats,” he said. “We’ll need to play our game where we try to put some pressure on those guys and steal some bases. If that means hitting or running or possibly bunting a guy over and sacrificing, we’ve got to be able to execute our offense.”

The Harvester Bees will play Gloucester in the championship game at 2 p.m. Thursday.