Spain Park bounces back to beat Chelsea for area championship

Published 7:42 am Friday, April 21, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – With the area championship on the line, the Spain Park Jaguars bounced back from their lone area loss of the season by taking down the Chelsea Hornets in game two of their series on Thursday, April 20 to claim the area title.

Back on their home field, the Jaguars didn’t let the series-opening loss phase them heading into game two, knowing what was on the line, and they delivered with a dominant effort en route to their 26th win of the season.

Spain Park scored at least one run in every inning at the plate on the way to a 10-4 victory to claim the area championship.

The Jags were able to build up a 7-0 lead through four innings of play before Chelsea tried to fight back into the game with four over the final three, but the deficit became too much for the Hornets, as Spain Park added three more in that same span.

Spain Park started the scoring early in the bottom of the first with strong baserunning leading to a run from Cole Edwards thanks to an error, making it 1-0 through the first inning.

In the second inning, the Jaguars tacked on two more runs with an RBI double from JR Thompson and an RBI groundout from Aiden Berke to make it 3-0.

After a 1-2-3 inning defensively, Spain Park came back to the plate in the bottom of the third and got another run on an error, the second of the game leading to a run, as a Ryan Cole ground ball eventually led to James Battersby scoring the team’s fourth run.

It was the bottom of the fourth, however, that ultimately made the difference.

Spain Park was able to put together its biggest inning of the game with three runs thanks to a sac fly from Jacob Tobias, an RBI single from Clay Spencer and another RBI single from Matthew Widra to make it 7-0.

That extra cushion became important, as Chelsea quickly responded with two runs in the top of the fifth to trim the deficit to 7-2.

But the Jags continued to score, posting one more run in the bottom half of the inning and then two more an inning later on RBI singles from Cole and Thompson to close out the six-run win.

Christopher Gross was key in the win, pitching the first five innings of the game and allowing three total runs and one earned run on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

Thompson then stepped in to polish off the effort over the final two innings, striking out four in that span and giving up one unearned run on three hits and a walk to preserve the win.

At the plate, Widra finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Thompson added two hits and two RBIs. Edwards, Spencer and Cole all finished with one hit and one RBI, while Battersby finished with a hit and two runs scored. Tobias and Berke each added an RBI for the area champs.

Spain Park will now get to host a first-round matchup against the runner-up from Class 7A, Area 8.