The Railroaders jumped out to an early lead and were never threatened as they took down Hug 9-5 in non-league action.
In the bottom of the first, Sparks catcher L.B. Rose smoked a knee-high offering from Hawks starting pitcher Raymond Kerr. Rose’s double one-hopped the fence and plated two runs.
After Jared Longland reached on an error and stole second base, putting runners on second and third, Casey Carter hit a two-run line drive single to shallow right-center field, making it a 4-0 game after one inning.
Kerr tried to help his cause when the Hawks came back to the plate in the top of the second. Kerr went shopping in the gap, doubling to right-center field to lead off the inning. Angel Adam singled to left, putting runners on the corners.
Kerr came home on a ground ball out to second base, cutting the deficit to 4-1. That was as close as the visitors got.
Sparks posted two more runs in the bottom of the third on infield grounders by Longland and James McCarty.
The first fielding error of the game by the Railroaders led to a run in the top of the fifth frame.
A walk and a hit batsman by Sparks starter Keiffer Putman put two runners on with two outs. Kerr connected on a 3-2 pitch, so runners were on the move and hit a hard one-hopper to second base. However, Carter couldn’t come up with the ball cleanly and Umberto Barajas came around to score from second base.
With a 6-2 edge, the Maroon and Gold posted a three spot in the bottom half of the fifth, increasing the lead to the out-of-reach limits.
Brandon Harris led off the bottom of the fifth, belting a shot opposite field over the short porch for a solo homer, ending Kerr’s outing on the mound after allowing seven runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking two.
Richard Kerr came on in relief and got the first batter he saw to fly out.
Then Longland doubled off the base of the wall, Carter walked and McCarty drove them both around when he found the gap in left-center for a two-bagger. That forged Sparks into a 9-2 advantage.
Putman couldn’t quite finish off the complete game on the mound. A leadoff triple by Richard Kerr and a hit batsman chased Putman from the game in the top of the seventh. Putman allowed four runs — three earned — on five hits. He struck out nine, walked two and hit three.
Joe Jones knocked in a pair with a triple down the left-field line and trotted home on Raymond Kerr’s sac fly to account for the final 9-5 margin.
“I felt good about it. I thought the guys played well,” Sparks baseball coach Greg Vasko said. “We didn’t let up until the end there. We made a couple mistakes. The kid made a good jump on the ball but just couldn’t come up with it. That was a good Hug team. I’ve been around for the last five years and Hug has improved every year. I appreciate that.”
Harris led the way, going 2-for-2 while scoring three runs. Carter was also 2-for-2.
Sparks (1-0) is on the road today, facing Carlin at 9 a.m. and Lovelock at 1 p.m.
Hug 9, Sparks 8
The Railroaders, as the visitors on the scoreboard, looked good early on. They led 5-1 after their two trips to the plate, but the Hawks would not let them pull away.
Hug scored seven of its nine runs from walks and hit by pitches, overcoming Sparks’ 10-hit attack.
“Our pitching is a little green, but they’re coming around. I expect good things from them once they get their stamina and focus,” Sparks softball coach Frank Avilla said.
The Hawks tallied two runs in the bottom of the second and four more in the third, grabbing a 7-5 lead.
The Railroaders rallied for a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to tie the game at 7-7, but Hug answered with a pair in the bottom half of the fourth to go ahead 9-7.
Sparks (0-1) tried to come from behind one more time, but came up one run short in the fifth and final inning. The two teams were playing tournament rules and a time limit stopped the game in the fifth.
Riely Regas and Stephanie Miller both finished 3-for-3 for Sparks, while Jocelyn Vasquez added two hits.
The softball squad will also take on Carlin and Lovelock today at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.