Six-Run Sixth Nets 9-4 Victory
PENN LAIRD – There was only one way the Trailblazers were going to get the job done Tuesday night: a complete team effort. Oh, and that applied to their Valley District baseball game, too.
After a game-ending unassisted double play by shortstop Josh Lasam in the top of the seventh, the Spotswood High School baseball team dragged first-year coach Marcus Davis out to the infield and eventually piled on top of him as Michael Soard and Logan Phelps turned a Gatorade bucket of water on the cluster of bodies.
“He’s a big guy. That was the only way they were going to get him down there,” SHS assistant coach Daryl Irvine said with a smile.
Trailing 4-3, the Blazers erupted for a six-run sixth inning and Jimmy Miller threw three scoreless innings of relief to earn the win on senior night as Spotswood came back to beat Fort Defiance 9-4, clinching its second straight Valley District regular-season title.
“I can’t even describe how it feels to win districts two years in a row,” said third baseman Jimmy Miller, one of 10 Blazers to record at least one hit. “I’m really overjoyed. I’m really happy and we really couldn’t have got it done without a whole team effort.”
Davis declined to comment on the district championship victory.
The Blazers – who finish the regular season at Waynesboro on Thursday – secured an automatic Region III tournament berth and a first-round bye in the district tournament, which begins Friday. Top-seeded Spotswood (14-3 overall, 10-1 in the Valley) will play a team to be determined on Tuesday in the semifinals at Turner Ashby.
The fifth-place Indians (6-8, 5-7) didn’t let SHS take the title without a fight.
Fort left-hander Aaron Eppard nearly went the distance. The junior pitcher who handed SHS its only district loss of the season – a 1-0 affair in Fort Defiance – allowed just three runs on eight hits through five innings. But after giving up back-to-back one-out singles in the sixth, Eppard watched a popup by senior pitcher Austin Nicely bounce off the second baseman’s glove and drop into shallow center field. Junior center fielder Tucker McCoy scored on the play, tying the game at 4-4.
“I told Coach Irv when I got to first, ‘I don’t care. I’ll take it,’” Nicely recalled. “Especially in a game like that, where all kinds of different stuff had gone on. One run up. One run down. I never would’ve guessed in the third inning that we would’ve won by that big of a margin. I thought it would be a one-run kind of a night.”
Lasam scored the eventual game-winning run on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by senior second baseman Cole Lokey. Consecutive run-scoring hits from Kevin Saylor, Tyler Hall and Phelps provided plenty of insurance for SHS.
“The suicide squeeze got us going,” Lokey said of catcher Garrett Lam’s textbook sacrifice bunt to score senior Seth Hinkle in the third inning.
Shortstop Bryce Wood and right fielder Chase Wine each went 2-for-3 with first-inning doubles to lead the Indians.
Eppard and Nicely each allowed three runs on six hits and two walks through the first four innings. Then, as Fort coach Vic Spotts put it, “the wheels came off” for the Indians.
Seniors provided three of Spotswood’s first four hits as the Blazers led 3-2 through two innings. Fort scratched out a run in the third and went ahead, 4-3, as sophomore center fielder Kyle McManus lined an RBI single to left field.
But as it turned out, the Blazers needed only one inning to win a seesaw battle – and defend their Valley District crown.
Fort Defiance 111 010 0 – 4 8 2
Spotswood 210 006 x – 9 12 0
Eppard, Harlow (6) and Lam; Nicely, Miller (5) and Lam. W—Miller (1-0). L—Eppard (2-2). HR—none.