As the Paris Eagles entered the District Tournament hosted by Atkins, pressure was high, with the number three seed needing a win to advance to the Regional Tournament and weather leaving them with more questions than answers.
Getting the games in early was significant for everyone with the new pitch count regulations. To accommodate the weather, the Eagles first game was moved up to 10 a.m., Thursday, April 27 with the expectation of playing a second game with a win.
They squared off against Two Rivers, the number six seed and an opponent they had yet to face this season.
The Eagles surrendered the lead in the second, allowing two runs to score and another in the top of the third. Down 0-3 and batting in the third, the Eagles came to life.
With two outs, Jake Schneider tripled, diving in Destin Davis who had led off the inning with a single. Toby Inman then stepped into the box and slapped a single to centerfield, bringing the Eagles within a run.
In the fourth, Paris added two more, taking the lead and never looking back. Inman doubled in a run in the fifth and Davis hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to give the 6-3 win and a place in the regional tournament. Though Inman started the game, he only pitched one inning, throwing an efficient 13 pitches before handing the ball to Schneider who would go the distance.
Paris would have everyone but Schneider available to pitch for the second game of the day.
The Eagles were 0-2 this season against host Atkins, and that was their second round opponent. Paris sent Kris Graham to the mound and he kept Atkins off the board until the fifth, with the Eagles owning a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Paris gave up five unearned runs, then two more runs in the sixth, falling 8-2.
The game was much closer than the final score, and the Eagles would still have Toby Inman available to start the third place game against another opponent they had yet to face in Jessieville.
The game was tight, as expected. Inman was efficient, a priority with neither Schneider or Graham available. The game was tied at three after six innings, and in the seventh, pitching woes and fielding mistakes led to a four-run inning, and Jessieville took the 7-3 win and the number three position for the regional tournament.
The pitching balance is critical for the Eagles, especially when playing back to back games. The underclassmen are stepping up and gaining valuable experience for a team heading to the regional tournament.