Many of the combined 24 runs came on free passes and mistakes on the field. Sparks sprayed seven hits across the field, while the Hawks had nine hits on the game.
“We gave them a lot of free bases,” Sparks coach Greg Vasko said. “We had a lot of passed balls that scored runs for them and I don’t know how many walks. When you give up that many bases and hand the other team that many opportunities, you can’t win a ball game.”
Sparks took the lead in the top of the first inning, plating two on a pair of back-to-back singles from Jared Longland and Casey Carter. The 2-0 edge would be the Railroaders only advantage of the game.
A single and an error led off the bottom of the first inning for Hug, putting runners in scoring position at second and third. A passed ball allowed senior Rich Kerr to cut the deficit in half. Two walks then loaded the bases before senior Junned Safdar laced a single into right field to tie the game at 2-2. With two outs, three straight walks and two passed balls gave the Hawks four more runs for a 6-2 lead.
Hug added two more runs in its next turn at the dish. The Hawks started the bottom half of the second with a single and an error, putting runners on the corners. A passed ball then allowed sophomore Joe Jones to touch home before a fielder’s choice plated Ray Kerr, giving the Hawks an 8-2 advantage.
Sparks cut Hug’s six-run lead in half in the top of the third. Junior Keiffer Putman started the inning off with a single, then advanced to third on two wild pitches. After a walk to senior Brandon Harris, a dropped bloop off the bat of L.B. Rose allowed Putman to score. A passed ball then sent Harris crashing home, but he was tagged out and ejected for running into the catcher. Two errors and two walks handed Sparks two more runs before the inning ended with the scoreboard reading 8-5.
The visitors edged closer with another run in the top of the fifth. Sparks loaded the bases with a pair of walks to sophomore Brandon Friedmann and Longland, along with a single from Carter. A sac fly from James McCarty sent Friedmann the final 90 feet home, bringing the score at 8-6.
The bottom of the fifth would prove costly to the Railroaders as Hug tagged on four more runs aided in large part by Sparks’ errors.
A walk to Al-Don Kaluau and an ensuing triple from Rich Kerr scored the first run of the frame before a single from Humberto Barajas-Ramos sent him home. Jones then singled and two errant relay throws plated Barajas-Ramos. A sacrifice fly from Ray Kerr rounded out the scoring for a 12-6 lead.
The Maroon and Gold attempted to rally in the top of the sixth, but fell just short.
Two outs started the inning off badly for the Railroaders, but from there Sparks put together a five-run, two-out rally. Putman took a walk and then scored when Friedmann put the ball in play and an error followed. Rose doubled after, scoring Friedmann. An error then allowed Longland to reach base safely as well as send Rose around the bases, bringing the score to 12-9. Carter then stepped into the box and singled into right where a failed diving attempt allowed Longland to score. McCarty closed out the rally with a bloop single into center, plating Carter and leaving the Railroaders one run shy of tying the game, 12-11.
Hug tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth frame for the final result of 13-11.
Vasko said he was unsure of why his team was so lackadaisical.
“For me I was focused, but I’m not sure what it was,” Vasko said. “Some of the kids who normally don’t pitch for us got a chance to throw today. I think that we used every pitcher that we have other than maybe one, not counting our two regular starters. Hopefully they’ll play a little bit better on Saturday.”
Sparks (12-5) will have a rematch with Hug at home on Saturday with first pitch set for 11 a.m.
“We’re going to make sure we re-focus over the next few days of practice,” Vasko said. “We’re really going to go back and focus on the fundamentals and do what we need to do to be successful.”