Spain Park continues hot stretch of play with win over Briarwood

Published 11:13 am Saturday, March 25, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

HOOVER – In a county battle featuring two of the state’s hottest teams, the Spain Park Jaguars were able to continue their impressive run on Friday, March 24 in a tightly-contested win.

With both carrying win streaks of at least five games coming into the matchup, the Jags were able to continue a clutch stretch of play that has featured wins over ranked teams in the 6A and 7A classifications all by two runs or less.

Coming off a one-run win in 11 innings over No. 1 Thompson two nights earlier, the team’s confidence was at a season high, while Briarwood was fresh off winning the area championship a night earlier.

Spain Park, however, jumped out to the early lead and was able to build a 5-0 lead through four innings before holding on for 5-3 victory in another tight battle.

The Jaguars were able to grab the early lead in the top of the bottom of the first after the first two batters in the inning reached base safely.

A walk from Evan Smallwood and a single from Cole Edwards put two on with no outs.

After a fielder’s choice moved Smallwood to third and allowed Jacob Tobias to reach safely at first, runners were on the corners with one out for Clay Spencer.

Spencer hit a pop fly to left field that ended in an error and allowed Smallwood to score for a 1-0 lead. A single from Matthew Widra followed and loaded the bases.

Spain Park was able to get one more run to cross the plate on a fielder’s choice off a grounder from James Battersby, but the Jags ended up leaving two on base, as they walked away from the inning with a 2-0 lead.

The Jags, however, had a consistent effort through their first four innings, which led to another run crossing the plate in the third and two more in the fourth.

In the third, it was an RBI single from Battersby that made it 3-0, while smart baserunning led to Smallwood scoring a run in the bottom of the fourth after a lead-off single before Widra drove home the team’s fifth run on an RBI single to make it 5-0.

Briarwood, however, didn’t roll over.

The Lions got a two-RBI single from William Clark in the top of the fifth to make it 5-2, while Brady Waugh scored shortly after on an RBI groundout from Andrew McAdams.

With two still in scoring position at that point, Briarwood had a chance to draw even closer, but a big strikeout from Tobias on the mound limited the damage, ultimately making the difference in the 5-3 win as the final two innings were scoreless.

Spain Park was led by two hits and an RBI from Widra, while Battersby finished with one hit and one RBI. Smallwood added two hits and a walk, while Edwards finished with one hit and one walk.

Tobias got the start and win on the mound after going six innings and allowing three unearned runs on three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. Jack Kendrick finished off the final inning and struck out one in his time to pick up the save.

Briarwood got hits from five different players with Clark leading the way with two RBIs. McAdams also finished with an RBI in the loss.