Jaguars outhit Lions in area matchup

Published 6:16 pm Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spain Park's Matt Berler connects with a pitch in an April 5 win over Briarwood. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

Spain Park’s Matt Berler connects with a pitch in an April 5 win over Briarwood. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

By JORDON SEMIEN/For the Reporter

HOOVER—Sunny skies set the scene for Saturday baseball as the Jaguars of Spain Park faced off with their area rival, the Briarwood Christian Lions. Briarwood battled to the last out, but the Jaguars’ pitching duo picked up the 5-1 win.

Both teams’ senior aces opened the game as Cleveland Milstead got the start for the Lions, while Spain Park sent Joshua Rich to the mound.

The game started with a controversial call taking a Lion’s run off the board. With men in scoring position, Briarwood’s Ethan Simmons appeared to drive in an RBI from third. The umpires ruled that the runner did not tag up at third before heading home and sent him back to the base, taking away Briarwood’s would-be 1-0 lead. Rich pitched his way out of the inning to neutralize the early Lion threat.

The Jags struck in the bottom of the inning on RBI fly outs from Rodney Anderson and Tyler Wise for a 2-0 lead going into the second frame. Rich and Milstead swapped one, two, three innings until the Jaguar offense caught a break on an RBI from Anderson for a 3-0 lead.

The Jaguars sent Matthew Berler to the mound to relieve Rich in the fifth, and Berler pitched his way out of a jam in the inning. Spain Park added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on an Anderson an RBI single, followed by Briarwood reliever Philip Johnston’s balk of Austin Haight for a 5-0 Jags lead.

Briarwood got on the board in the top of the fifth, and threatened again in the seventh. With the bases loaded and a full count, Jacob Bracewell hit deep to center. It had the height but not the distance as it dropped for the final out in Spain Park’s 5-1 win.

Rich and Berler finished with six strikeouts and two walks, while Briarwood’s staff totaled two strikeouts and five walks.

Spain Park head coach Will Smith spoke after the game about the importance of Saturday doubleheaders for his team.

“On Saturday games you get a chance to play two,” he said. “(It’s) a chance to get better in both games and that’s our main focus, just playing better.”