MOJAVE VALLEY, Arizona – Spring Creek’s baseball team dropped its first two games of the season Thursday – answering with a two-game winning streak – closing the Route 66 Baseball Classic with a loss.
The Spartans were beaten 7-2 on Thursday by Lee Williams (Kingman, Arizona) and dropped an 8-2 contest to Central (El Centro, California), but Spring Creek bounced back a 4-0 victory Friday morning over Kingman (Arizona) and thumped Pahrump Valley by a final score of 8-1 in the nightcap.
Spring Creek finished the tournament with a 3-2 loss against Southwest EC (El Centro, California).
Versus Lee Williams
The Spartans got off to a slow start Thursday in the season opener against Lee Williams, Spring Creek falling behind 6-0.
Lee Williams plated two runs in the bottom of the third inning, added one in the fourth and tacked on two more in the fifth.
The Spartans’ first runs of the season and the only of the game came with a pair in the top of the sixth inning, senior Jake Webb driving in senior Jake Oliphant and junior Brock Gilligan.
In the bottom half, Lee Williams posted the final of the contest and cruised to a 7-2 victory.
Oliphant and senior Thomas Ledford each hit 1-for-2 for Spring Creek – Oliphant’s hit going for a double – both of the Spartans’ runs driven in by Webb.
Spring Creek fell to 0-2 in its second game of the year.
Central did its damage early, scoring all eight runs in the first three innings – two in the first, five in the second and one in the third.
The Spartans did not score until the fifth inning, adding a run and another in the top of the sixth – senior Jose Ortiz scoring both runs for Spring Creek.
He was driven in by Gilligan on one occasion and senior Caden Jangard on the other.
Ortiz not only led Spring Creek in runs scored, he also tied for the team high in hits with two – junior Max Shanks also going 2-for-3 with a double.
Jangard and senior Dakota Larson each finished 1-for-2 at the plate, Larson’s hit going for a two-bagger.
The Spartans tallied their first win of the season Friday morning against Kingman, posting a shutout for a 4-0 victory.
Spring Creek took some time to get rolling offensively once again, posting the first run in the top of the fourth inning.
The Spartans came life in the top of the fifth inning with a three-run frame, the pitching and defense stifling Kingman to the tune of two hits and no runs, Spring Creek equaling its first two games combined with four runs in the shutout W.
Ledford was lights-out on the hill for Spring Creek, throwing a complete game.
He allowed just two hits and no runs over five innings of work, striking out seven batters and walking only one.
Senior Jason Painter, Shanks, Larson and Gilligan drove in one-run apiece for the Spartans – Painter notching the only multiple-hit game for Spring Creek with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate.
Ledford and Jangard each finished 1-for-1 at the dish and scored a run, matching the run total of Larson and senior Andrew Armstrong.
Versus Pahrump Valley
Following slow starts in the first three games of the tournament, Spring Creek put up runs early Friday evening against Division 3A South opponent Pahrump Valley.
The Spartans notched three runs in the top of the first inning, adding one run each in the next two.
Spring Creek added two runs in the fourth inning and another in the fifth, scoring at least a run in every inning after posting 12 scoreless frames in 17 innings in the first three games.
The Trojans’ only run of the contest came in the bottom of the second inning, and the Spartans rolled to an 8-1 victory.
Following Ledford’s lead on the bump, Shanks posted a two-hitter of his own – going the distance and allowing just one run over five innings – striking out five batters and giving up two free passes.
Gilligan drove in a game-high two runs, finishing 2-for-3 with a double.
Ledford also hit a double and went 1-for-2 with an RBI, senior Michael Armstrong finishing 1-for-2 at the dish and driving in a run.
Larson and Shanks each added an RBI in 1-for-3 stints at the plate, and Larson tied for the game high with two runs scored – matching the number of times senior Chris Brunson rolled home.
A weapon on the base paths, Larson stole three bases in three attempts.
Versus Southwest EC
The Spartans came up one run short in a low-scoring dogfight against Southwest EC to close the tournament.
Neither team mounted more than one run in any frame, the Spartans sending one across the dish in the top of the first inning.
The Eagles answered with a run and tied the game in the bottom of the second, Spring Creek regaining a one-run advantage with a score in the top of the third.
Southwest EC plated a run in the bottom of the fourth and added the game-winner in the bottom of the fifth – walking off with a 3-2 win.
Shanks went 2-for-2 and drove in both of Spring Creek’s runs, Larson scoring both runs for the Spartans and finishing 2-for-3 at the plate.
Larson posted another perfect 3-for-3 game on the base paths, swiping three bases.
Junior Daniel Johnson gave the Spartans a solid start on the hill, allowing three runs on three hits over four innings, striking out two batters against two walks.
“I felt like we played pretty well. It took us a while to knock off the rust and get the bats going, but hitting is always behind pitching. Overall, the starting pitching was pretty good. As the tournament went along, we started having better ABs and better approaches at the plate,” said Spring Creek coach Scott Gilligan. “I was happy with the way we played. The defense gave up 10 errors over five games, and I can live with that for being this early in the season – especially for not being able to play outside.”
The Spartans are slated to open league play of the Division 3A North at 3 p.m. Friday against South Tahoe if Spring Creek’s field is in good enough condition.
Gilligan was going to call around and check on the availability of other fields to see if a move would be possible, pending the snow in the forecast on Wednesday through Friday night.