Posted: Thursday, April 10th 2014 at 2:40am
Baseball: West Hall stuns Adams, White County
By Jeff Hart Staff
Zack English (4) and the Spartans continue to be the biggest surprise in Region 7-AAA after a 4-1 win over White County Wednesday at home.
OAKWOOD -- For the first 11 batters Wednesday, White County’s Spencer Adams was showing the West Hall offense why he is a Georgia-signee and possible MLB pick in June.
But when the Spartans’ Cameron Johnson stroked a solid single to center to break up a no-hitter and perfect game in the fourth inning trailing 1-0, it was Adams that would be on the defensive.
Johnson’s hit, followed by a double from Brian Newman to tie the game, gave West Hall the spark it was looking for and the Spartans rode that momentum to a stunning 4-1 win over Adams and the Warriors in a key Region 7-AAA battle at West Hall Field.
“When Cameron got that hit everybody just kind of relaxed and we realized we could hit him,” West Hall starting pitcher Zack English said. “We feel like we can compete with anyone but this was huge for us. We’re just trusting in what the coaches are telling us and just trying to have fun.”
West Hall would get eight hits over the next 13 at-bats to score all four runs in the final three innings. Spartans coach Dustin Rennspies told his team to be patient and wait for their chance.
“(Spencer) is the real deal and when a guy throws that hard it can put an offense on its heels,” Rennspies said. “But after the second time through the order our guys started to see it better and got some good swings.”
The win moved West Hall (13-5, 9-4 Region 7-AAA) into no-worse than third place, one game ahead of White County (13-5, 8-5) in the region standings. Depending on North Hall’s game at East Hall Wednesday, the Spartans could find themselves in a tie for second.
“It’s a nice win for us but there is still a long way to go,” Rennspies said. “Our goal is to finish as high as we can and make the playoffs but right now we’re just taking things one at a time.”
English (6-0) outdueled Adams on the mound yielding just one run on six hits and striking out nine in a complete-game effort.
“It wasn’t me against him but when you’re facing a guy like that you know you have to be on top of your game because he’s not going to give up much,” English said.
“Zack was tough. He really wanted it,” Rennsspies said. “He was focused out there.”
The key inning was the third in a scoreless tie. The Warriors would score one to take a 1-0 lead but they had a chance to blow things open.
Peyton Applewhite led off with a single, stole second, and moved to third on a wild pitch with one out. Matthew Hamrick walked and then Will Flowers stroked a single to left scoring Applewhite. After Adams followed with his second single of the game to load the bases, English fanned Stetson Gearing and got Joel Pritchett to ground into a fielder’s choice to get out of the inning without further damage.
“That was huge. It was the key to the game,” Rennspies said. “Zack was able to keep them off-balance with his curveball and use his fastball effectively. Getting out of that with only one run won us the game.”
Both pitchers were sharp at the beginning. English retired five of the first six batters, allowing just a one-out single to Adams in the first inning. Adams retired the first 11 batters, fanning four in that span.
The score was still 1-1 until the Spartans offense responded in the bottom of the fifth inning. Cam Warner singled with one out and moved to second on Zack Collins’ single. Lincoln Stubbs gave West Hall the lead, 3-1, with a two-out, two-run triple.
English would keep the Warriors at bay retiring 14 of the final 18 batters.
Adams (3-2) also went the distance allowing eight hits and striking out nine in six innings. It was the fifth straight loss for the Warriors after winning 13 straight to open the season and being ranked as high as No. 2 in Class AAA.
The two teams will play again Thursday in Cleveland in the back-end of a home-and-home series.
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