SMYRNA — Justin Jones only hit the ball about 75 feet.
Jones’ walk-off hit gave Smyrna a 3-2 victory over Caesar Rodney in eight innings in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division baseball contest on Friday afternoon. It’s the first time in at least 10 seasons that the Eagles have beaten CR.
Jones was up with the bases loaded and one out when his dribbler back up the middle went into no man’s land behind the mound where no Rider could make a play on it which allowed Jared Gillis to score from third.
“I’m 150 pounds maybe, I’m all contact,” Jones said. “I’m nothing else. I was just trying to find a hole. It’s amazing. It’s a great feeling especially with a perfect team effort.”
Jones was tackled by his teammates after he rounded first and found himself at the bottom of a pile as the Eagles celebrated a win that keeps them alive in the North. Smyrna (10-3) is a game back of North leaders Sussex Tech and Dover but don’t have the tiebreaker against either team.
The game was a pitchers duel between CR senior Jake Williams and Smyrna freshman Jeremy Carrow until Williams was taken out in the bottom of the seventh.
Smyrna trailed 2-1 going into the seventh when Jones walked to lead off the inning and courtesy-runner Dario Anderson stole second. Anderson went to third on a passed ball and scored on Carrow’s groundout when Williams made a diving stop at second base but didn’t have a shot to get Anderson trying to go home.
“I thought we came out flat early, didn’t make some plays and gave up a couple of unearned runs,” Smyrna coach Mike Henderson said. “I was just happy that we could tie it at that point. Jeremy was throwing a heck of a game and we stepped up for him when we had to.”
Carrow went the distance and struck out eight while giving up three hits.
“He doesn’t look like a freshman out there with his composure,” Henderson said. “He’s been doing this all year for us.”
“You got to work hard to start on this team and that’s all I’ve done all year,” Carrow said. “I’ve been dedicated to the game. ... This is a great team win.”
Williams didn’t give up an earned run for the Riders.
“I think Jake did a great job and their freshman did a great job of locating,” CR coach Rich Szvitich said. “We were getting a lot of first pitch strikes and that gives you a lot of flexibility with your other pitches.”
Gillis set up his game-winning run when he began the eighth with a hard grounder into center field. He stole second then advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw.
The Riders got one out on a strikeout before they elected to walk the next two batters, Corey Everage and Shawn Dulin, for a force at any base. That brought up Jones who won the game on the first pitch he saw.
CR took the lead twice just to have the Eagles rally and tie the game both times.
Quintin Ivy knocked in the first run when he tripled off the wall in right to score Carlton Voak in the top of the third. Ivy also put the Riders up 2-1 in the sixth when he reached on an error, stole second, stole third and also stole home as Carrow went into his windup.
“We’re proud of the kids and we told them that they played hard,” Szvitich said. “If they played like this all season I think things would be different. There were so many times in the game where one team would get the outs they needed. ... One of my assistants said whoever got to three was going to win. They just got to three before we did.”
Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at email@example.com or 741-8224.
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