Spain Park finishes off sweep of Chelsea to clinch playoff spot

Published 10:49 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

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In a chaotic scramble for the postseason during the final week of area play in Class 7A, Area 6, the Spain Park Jaguars put together a clutch sweep of county foe Chelsea April 16 and 18.

The week prior, the Jags split their series with Hewitt-Trussville to enter the final week 2-2 in the area in a tie with the Huskies, while both trailed behind Oak Mountain’s area record of 3-1.

Spain Park, however, took care of business with a 2-0 shutout against Chelsea to kick off the final week of area play on Tuesday, April 16, which was highlighted by a gem on the mound from CJ Gross.

Gross put together a complete-game shutout that included nine strikeouts and just two walks and three hits to help lead the Jaguars to a series-opening victory.

Chapman Blevins led the way at the plate with a hit and an RBI, while Rhys Jones added a game-high two hits.

That win guaranteed the Jags a playoff spot, but it kept their hopes of an area title alive, which they capitalized on in game two against the Hornets with a 6-4 victory to complete the sweep.

Spain Park got off to a strong start with a four-run opening inning that ultimately became the difference.

On the road, the Jags saw the first five batters reach base safely thanks to a walk from Matthew Widra and singles from Coleman Gray, Jones, James Battersby and Blevins. Battersby’s single drove home pinch runner Jacob Byrd and Jones for a 2-0 advantage.

A sac fly from Aiden Berke and a fielder’s choice groundout from Sam Waldrop put two outs on the board but also drove home two more runs for a 4-0 lead.

Chelsea didn’t go away quietly, slowly chipping away at the deficit with one run in the home half of the first and two more in the bottom of the fourth to make it 4-3.

Spain Park, however, took advantage of small ball in the top of the fifth with a hit batter, a walk and a single loading the bases. That set the stage for Jones to pick up a crucial run on a passed ball.

His run put the Jags on top 5-3, which became key after Chelsea came right back with a run in the bottom of the fifth to make it a one-run game once again.

That score held up through six innings before Spain Park added an important insurance run in the top of the seventh when an error allowed Tyler Walker to score the game’s final run.

Spain Park was led by Battersby with two hits and two RBIs in the win, while Gray added two hits. Berke and Waldrop each finished with one RBI, while Jones, Widra and Blevins each added a hit in the win.

With Hewitt-Trussville sweeping Oak Mountain, the Jags will now take on Thompson in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.