E.A. Sports Today

Making a point

Spring Garden uses big inning to win its opening game in a new area

Faith Christian catcher Garrett Steward puts on the tag before Spring Garden’s Joe Rogers can get to the plate. On the cover, all eyes are on the outfield as Dawson Broome scores in the Panthers’ seven-run third inning. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It may have been a trip into the unknown to some degree, but Spring Garden stepped into its new baseball area Monday and sent a message to the rest of the teams that there’s a new sheriff in town.

The Panthers played their first baseball game in Class 1A Area 10 since being reclassified and swamped Faith Christian 12-1.

Christian Crider and ninth-grader Coby Slayton checked the Lions on six hits and the Panthers broke open a game they were already leading with a seven-run third inning.

“We’ve known everybody we’ve played in the last 10 years in the area, so coming here with an unknown opponent we knew we had to bring our A game,” Panthers coach Barrett Ragsdale said. “We lost the powerhouses that we knew were powerhouses. There was a little uncertainty there. We just knew we had to worry about ourselves and make sure we bring our A game every day.”

The Panthers (9-2) never trailed. They scored their first run on a dropped third strike and their second on Ben Ivey’s RBI single. They sent 11 batters to the plate in their big third inning and scored seven runs on only two hits – a two-run double by Luke Ivey and Austin Finch’s RBI single. Two other runs scored when a fielder’s choice throw to the plate went all the way to the screen.

Riley Austin reached base all four times he batted and scored three runs. Jack Sills and Julien Key had two hits apiece for Faith Christian.

“We’ve been playing very well and having some big innings all the games,” Ragsdale said. “The coach in me, I feel like we still missed some opportunities and we’d get better and capitalize more and have bigger innings, but our kids came ready to play.”

Crider started and pitched the first four innings for his fourth win of the season, tying Joe Rogers for the team high.

The Panthers are pretty deep on the mound for a Class 1A team and they may have discovered another pitcher Monday. Slayton worked the fifth, struck out the first batter he faced and got all three outs by strikeout. He threw 16 pitches.

“I knew he could pitch but he plays so well at shortstop for me,” Ragsdale said. “He’s been begging to pitch, but he’s been so crucial in our wins at shortstop I just hadn’t had an opportunity to put him on the mound. He can come in there and fill the zone up. And a freshman, too.”

Spring Garden 12, Faith Christian 1
Spring Garden 117 30 — 10 7 2
Faith Christian 000 10 — 5 6 6

WP: Christian Crider. LP: Riley Camp. 2B: Luke Ivey (S), Julien Key (F).

Faith Christian’s Jack Sills (3) found his way around Spring Garden third baseman Austin Slayton early in the game. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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