Spain Park upends defending champs Pelham
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer
PELHAM— Powder blue uniforms and a red-hot offense are going a long way for Spain Park baseball.
The Jaguars eliminated the defending AHSAA Class 6A state champion Pelham in a two-game sweep April 25, out scoring the Panthers 11-5 over the course of the two contests.
The first game saw leadoff man Matt Berler and Jon Sumner reach to start the top of the first. Berler then scored on an Austin Haight double, and Sumner came home on a Rodney Anderson groundout to take a 2-0 lead.
Pelham answered in the bottom of the inning when Sam Finnerty scored on a Hunter Stovall sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 2-1.
Neither team scored again until the top of the fifth, when Spain Park reeled off five runs. Alan Desantis scored on an error as did Dalton Brown, and Berler came home on a Haight sacrifice. Sumner then scored on an error to make it 6-1 Spain Park.
Pelham attempted a rally in the bottom of the sixth, as Boomer Murchison scored on a Finnerty groundout. Unfortunately for the Panthers, it was all they could muster, falling 6-2 in game one.
The second game was a tale of missed opportunities for the defending champs. Batting first due to a playoff-mandated home/away designation swap, both Finnerty and Alex Urban singled to start the game. The duo reached third and second, respectively, but were unable to score.
In the bottom of the first, Spain Park once again jumped out to an early lead. Berler took a hit-by-pitch to reach first, later scoring on a Sumner double to left. Sumner scored on an Anderson single, and Jags took a 2-0 lead into the second.
Pelham got on the board in the top of the third, when John Rich issued a bases loaded walk to Chase Martin, bringing in Urban and cutting the deficit to 2-1. A double play ended the inning, and the Panthers’ scoring chance.
Spain Park tacked on two more in the bottom of the fourth when Parker Hall and Mason Duke came home to push the lead to 4-1.
Hall scored again in the bottom of the sixth, extending the lead to four.
Just as it seemed all hope was lost, the Panthers came out swinging — literally. Austin Moore led off the top of the seventh with a single, and Finnerty drilled a double. Alex Urban then shot a single to left to score more, and the Panthers crawled their way back into the ballgame, 5-2. Rich walked Stovall to load the bases, and Finnerty scored on a Tyler Wilburn groundout to make it 5-3.
With the bases loaded, Rich struck out Chase Martin and Thomas Brashier to end the game, and move on to the next round.
Stats were unavailable at press time. Check back with Shelbycountyreporter.com for more updates.