Jaguars set another record in series-clinching win over Vestavia Hills

Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

HOOVER — Another night, another record.

The Spain Park High School baseball team is in the midst of a record-setting run in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A playoffs.

The record-setting streak continued in the Jaguars’ 5-3 win over Vestavia Hills in the deciding third game in a best-of-three series against the Rebels in the second round of the playoffs May 4, which put Spain Park in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A playoffs for the first time in school history.

The Jaguars (36-12) will travel to Huntsville in the quarterfinal round of the AHSAA Class 6A playoffs.

Spain Park also defeated Vestavia Hills in a deciding third game in a best-of-three series three weeks ago to claim the Class 6A, Area 12 title.

“We’ve been in an elimination type game with them twice,” said Spain Park coach Will Smith. “Once for the area title and once for the end of the season. It say’s a lot about our group of seniors.”

Another Spain Park player set a single-season record in the victory, which is becoming a common occurrence for the Jaguars.

Spain Park junior Paul Angel blasted a solo homer over the right field wall in the bottom of the fifth inning. Angel’s solo shot gave him 10 home runs for the season, which eclipsed Aaron Haag’s record of nine homers in a single season.

Angel’s blast came after two strikeouts in his first two plate appearances.

“I just needed to regain my confidence,” Angel said.

Several Jaguars have already set single-season school records. Senior Alex Close is the school’s single-season RBI leader and Mikey White became the school’s single-season stolen base leader during the series with Vestavia Hills.

After the Rebels took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Spain Park took the lead for good with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Mikey White led off the inning with a triple to the left-center field gap before scoring on a passed ball. Close reached on a walk before eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly by Austin Veteto.

Angel’s homer gave the Jaguars a 3-1 advantage in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Spain Park tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to push its lead to 5-1.

Charlie McPherson reached on a walk before scoring on a single by Nathan Brock. Veteto reached base on a bunt single before scoring on an RBI double by Angel.

Vestavia Hills cut the lead to 5-3 in the top of the seventh inning, but Colton Freeman closed the door with a strikeout to end the game.

Mikey White started on the mound and gave up just one run on two hits with six strikeouts and two walks in 3 2/3 innings before exiting after injuring his index finger on a line drive back up the middle.

Freeman improved to 7-0 this season as he picked up the win after giving up two runs on two hits with three strikeouts and four walks in 3 1/3 innings in relief.

Freeman pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth inning after loading the bases with three consecutive walks.

“It was the biggest game of my life,” Freeman said. “Most of it was just adrenaline.”