It took a little while for West Hall to get on the scoreboard in Monday night’s home game against Cherokee Bluff, but the Spartans bats did just enough late to pull out a 2-1 victory over the visiting Bears.
Runs batted in in the fifth and sixth innings by Ryan Svetz and Kyle Murphy were the difference in a tightly contested Region 7-3A matchup.
“Both teams played very well,” West Hall coach Brannon Humphries said. “We just found a way to come out on top, and that’s something we’ve been preaching the whole season to them. Just never giving up, never giving up. Whatever it takes. And they did that.”
Braden Simms got the start for the Spartans (11-3, 4-0 Region 7-3A) and pitched a complete game, striking out seven while giving up just one run. Clay Tyas started for Cherokee Bluff (8-4, 0-1 Region 7-3A), getting 10 strikeouts over four innings without allowing any runs.
Bears catcher Caleb Miele batted in a run off a single in the top of the second, but outside of that, both teams struggled to bring runners home early in the game. West Hall loaded the bases in the first and fourth innings but Tyas was able to escape from both situations without allowing any runs.
“I think early on, when we had those guys on in scoring position, we didn’t necessarily have the quality at bats that we needed,” Humphries said. “Later in the game, guys did a lot better job putting the ball in play and having better approaches when we get guys in scoring positions, and I think that was a big difference maker.”
Things got better for the Spartans in the fifth, when a single to right field from Svetz brought in Nick Sturm for the game-tying run. West Hall kept it going in the sixth when Murphy lined a single of his own to right field to break the tie.
The Spartans stayed strong defensively, retiring three of the first four Cherokee Bluff batters in the top of the seventh to finish off the 2-1 victory.
West Hall and Cherokee Bluff will square off again in the second game of the series on Wednesday at 5:55 p.m. at Cherokee Bluff High School.