Spain Park wins crucial game for chance at playoffs

Published 2:42 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – In a must-win situation against the state’s No. 1 team, the Spain Park Jaguars didn’t panic on their home field Thursday, April 21.

Taking on the top-ranked Hewitt-Trussville Huskies, Spain Park needed a win and Vestavia Hills loss to earn a play-in game with the Rebels for a spot in the 2022 Class 7A playoffs.

The hold-your-breath moment came when the Jaguars were in the sixth inning.

At that point, the Jags had just given up a 4-2 lead and were going to the bottom of the sixth tied 4-4, while Vestavia Hills put the lead off runner aboard in the final inning of its game and eventually had the game-tying run on second with one out.

The series of events that followed, however, became big.

Not only did Vestavia Hills’ next two batters go down in order to lose to Gadsden City 1-0, but Spain Park was able to capitalize on a big two-out hit from Ryan Cole.

After Josh Harrington and Cole Edwards reached base safely with a single and hit by pitch, respectively, a second out was recorded on a fly out.

Cole, however, stepped to the plate and battled his way into a full count.

Searching for his first hit of the night, the powerful offensive threat drove the next pitch he saw to center field that caused problems in the outfield and allowed both Harrington and Edwards to score for what became the game-winning runs.

Trailing 6-4, Hewitt-Trussville looked to spark a comeback in the top of the seventh by putting two runners aboard with two outs, but John Robert Thompson was able to get a ground out to back to himself for the final out of the game.

The thrilling victory earned Spain Park the chance to take on Vestavia Hills Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. to determine which of the two will advance to the playoffs this season.

The Jags took the early lead with two runs in the first and one in the second before the Huskies got on the board in the third with two runs of their own.

Spain Park then extended the lead by one more in the fourth before Hewitt scored the two runs to tie the game, leading to the exciting finish.

Spain Park was led in the win by Cole’s three RBIs, while Harrington led the team with two hits. He also added an RBI, while Jacob Tobias posted one hit and one RBI.

In addition to those three, Evan Smallwood, Clay Spencer, Thompson and Wilkins Hunter all had hits in the win.

Lucas Thornton got the start on the mound and went six innings, allowing five hits and four runs with five strikeouts.