Oak Mountain stays in area race with win over Spain Park

First-year Oak Mountain High School baseball coach Shelton Stalls knew how difficult winning in Class 6A, Area 10 is when he accepted the position.

Stalls didn’t expect his team to make it even more difficult with a slow start in the Eagles’ first three Area 10 games.

After splitting a series with Hoover to open area play, Oak Mountain dropped its first meeting in a two-game series against Spain Park.

“We put our backs against the wall,” Stalls said.

The Eagles took a step away from the wall and closer to a berth in the Class 6A playoffs as they evened the series with the Jaguars with a 1-0 victory March 26.

Jake Hubbard scattered four hits in six innings without allowing a run and nine-hole hitter Drew Rosenberg drove in pinch runner Andrew Hackney in the top of the fourth inning to give the Eagles the only run they would need.

Hubbard struck out five batters and walked one. Jake Gayle struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to record a save.

Stalls said pitching has keyed the Eagles turnaround. Cary Baxter allowed only one run in a 1-0 loss to Spain Park three days earlier.

“They’ve gotten into a rhythm this week that they haven’t gotten into this season,” Stalls said. “We’re not going to score 8 to 10 runs in area games. We’ve got to have the pitchers take it upon and do it themselves.”

Baxter finished 2-for-3 with two singles and a stolen base for the Eagles, who improved to 2-2 in Class 6A, Area 10.

David Dahl, Cole Prater, J.D. Crowe, Rosenberg and Hubbard had a single each.

Spain Park junior Chris Ellis had a career night on the mound despite the loss. Ellis struck out a career-high 15 batters with only one walk in a complete game for the Jaguars, who fell to 18-10 overall and 3-3 in Class 6A, Area 10.

Ellis scattered seven hits, with Rosenberg’s RBI single in the fourth as his only blemish.

Spain Park coach Will Smith said the pitchers are going to need more run support with the Jaguars’ final Area 10 series against Hoover looming in early April.

“When you score only one run in a series, you better be thankful you won one game,” Smith said.

Carter White, Jake Lee, Austin Veteto and Ellis had a single each for Spain Park.

Pelham 2, Thompson 1

The Panthers (23-2, 4-0 in Class 6A, Area 10) remain on top of the the Area 10 race.

Trae Santos started and picked up the win. Trevor Fitts earned a save in relief.