DAYTON – In its first games of the season, the Spring Creek baseball team jumped straight into league play of the Division 3A North.
The Spartans swept the Dust Devils, in Dayton, Spring Creek kicking off the year with a 3-0 record.
Spring Creek’s offense was slow to start Friday in the season opener, trailing 4-0 four innings – the Dust Devils mounting one run in the bottom of the first, another in the second and two more in the fourth – but a mighty swing got the ball rolling for the Spartans in the top of the fifth.
“Jay King hit a grand slam in the fifth inning and after that, the gates opened up for us,” said Spring Creek coach Scott Gilligan.
The four-run yard job by the senior transfer from Fernley changed the momentum of the contest and tied the score 4-4.
Senior Hunter Buzzetti reached on an error at second base, junior Adam Davis took first on a dropped-third strike and a two-run single by senior Brendyn Taylor pushed the Spartans to a 6-4 lead.
Spring Creek added another run in the top of the sixth, giving up a run in the bottom half – the Spartans leading 7-5.
In the top of the seventh, the Spartans put up a double-digit number – starting with a little déjà vu.
King’s second deep blast with the bases cranked gave Spring Creek an 11-5 advantage and posted his eighth RBI of the ballgame, and the Spartans gained another two-RBI rip by Taylor – who roped a double.
After a sluggish start, the Spartans closed the contest on an 18-2 run and won their season opener by a final score of 18-6.
King led the way with a 3-for-6 effort at the plate – each of his two home runs coming with the bases loaded – driving in a video-game’s worth of eight runs.
Taylor went 2-for-4 with a double with four RBIs, and senior James Testerman hit 2-for-2 and drove in two runs – Buzzetti batting 2-for-4 and senior Clay Campbell finishing 2-for-5 at the dish with an RBI.
Campbell led the Spartans with four runs scored.
Spring Creek’s other run driven in came off the bat of Davis, who went 1-for-2.
On the mound, senior Max Shanks allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks over 5-1/3 innings.
In 1-2/3 innings of relief work, junior Ryan Thurston gave up one run on four hits.
Dayton’s best chance to beat Spring Creek was in the first game of the series, the Spartans dominating the rest of the action.
In the morning game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Spring Creek grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Buzzetti, Taylor and Testerman juiced the bases with three-consecutive singles to lead off the frame.
Junior Kyle Owsley drove in Buzzetti with a baes-loaded walk, and Taylor scored on an error at third base on a groundball by Campbell.
The Spartans took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third, King leading off with a base knock and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Taylor.
In the top of the fourth, Spring Creek went up six runs with a three-run frame.
Junior Cameron Dockery led off with a single, stole second base and scored on an error by the second baseman.
With two outs, senior Brock Gilligan extended the frame with a base knock and King hammered his third homer of the early season – a two-run shot opening a 6-0 lead.
The Spartans snagged a 7-0 advantage with a run in the top of the fifth, loading the bases with one out.
Taylor and Testerman went for back-to-back base knocks, Dockery drew a walk and packed the paths and Owsley notched his second RBI with a free pass – Taylor scoring the run.
Dayton plated a run in the bottom half, but the Spartans regained the score in the top of the sixth.
King led off with a single and stole second base, Shanks driving him in with an RBI base knock.
Spring Creek kept its late-game momentum from Friday rolling, cruising to an 8-1 victory in the first half of Saturday’s twin bill.
King went 4-for-5 with a home run, drove in two runs and scored a team-high three – also stealing two bases – Owsley finishing with two RBIs on walks.
Stellar on the mound, King went the distance – allowing one run on four hits and fanning a ridiculous 13 batters against just two walks over seven innings of complete-game dominance.
Taylor hit 3-for-3 and drove in a run, Gilligan finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Buzzetti and Testerman each hit 2-for-4, and Shanks’ RBI came on his lone hit in a 1-for-5 performance at the plate.
The third contest was also a one-sided affair, the Spartans sweeping the series with a 13-2 victory in six innings.
Campbell led off the top of first and reached base on an error, advancing on a sacrifice fly by Gilligan and scoring on a RBI double by guess who, Jay King.
King rolled home two batters later on an RBI double by Buzzetti, the Spartans taking a 2-0 lead.
The Dust Devils pulled to within a run in the bottom half of the first, but the Spartans extended to a 5-1 lead in the top of the second.
Spring Creek loaded the bases to lead off the frame with three straight singles by Testerman, Davis and Owsley.
Campbell drove in Testerman on a fielder’s choice and stole a base, Gilligan crossed Davis with a base knock and Campbell scored on an RBI single by King.
In the top of the fourth, the lead went from four to six with a two-run inning for Spring Creek.
Taylor hit a one-out single and Testerman drew a walk, Davis ripping a two-RBI base knock.
Dayton gained back one of the two runs in the bottom half, but the Spartans responded with another two-run inning in the top of the fourth.
King thumped a one-out single and stole a base, and Shanks drew a walk – the runners advancing on a wild pitch.
Buzzetti drove both runners in with a double, opening a 9-2 lead.
The Spartans closed the show in the top of the sixth, posting a frame-high four runs – two coming on a deep crank.
King led off with a walk and scored on the first home run of the season by Shanks – Spring Creek snagging a nine-run lead at 11-2.
Buzzetti took first on a free pass, Testerman went for a base knock and Davis enforced the mercy rule with his second two-RBI smack of the contest.
Dayton was unable to bring the game to a single-digit margin in the bottom of the sixth, and the Spartans ended the game early with a 13-2 victory.
Davis led Spring Creek with four RBIs – finishing a perfect 3-for-3 – Buzzetti also going 3-for-3 with two RBIs, two of hits going for doubles.
King continued his torrid hitting with a 3-for-3 effort with a double and two RBIs, Shanks driving in two runs with his homer.
Gilligan drove in a run with a base knock, and Campbell added the Spartans’ other RBI with a sacrifice fly.
On the bump, Gilligan allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits with seven Ks and two walks in a complete game over six innings.
Testerman finished 2-for-3 and tied King for the team high in runs scored, each crossing home three times.
For the series, King hit .714 with 12 RBIs – going 10-for-14 at the plate – smoking three home runs and a double and swiping three bags.
“Jay had a great series. To get 10 hits (three homers) and drive in 12 runs is impressive,” said coach Gilligan. “Our defense was really good for not being outside all preseason. We only made three errors all series; one in the outfield, one by the catcher and one by the pitcher – none by the infield. Our guys threw well; we only used four pitchers total. They threw strikes, 24 Ks and only six walks.”
The Spartans – weather permitting – are scheduled to play their home opener against Lowry (1-2 in league) at 2 p.m. Friday, in Spring Creek.
“We have to get better every week; pitching, hitting, base running, everything,” coach Gilligan said. “It would have to get really nice to play on our field. We’ll look into the possibility of using Elko’s field since they’ll be on the road, but we have to explore some options.”