On Wednesday afternoon, even the mercy rule couldn’t get in the way of Sparks’ 23-1 shellacking of the Hug Hawks.
Caught in the middle of all the hits and scoring was a very special stat — junior Brandon Harris jumped on a curveball and hit his first career home run. His towering three-run, second-inning shot over the left-field fence put the Railroaders up 6-0. A career-first achievement can make a person somewhat speechless.
“I’m jittery,” Harris said. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. That was my first; Little League, high school, everything."
“I was proud of him for that,” said Sparks head baseball coach Greg Vasko. “He stayed back, waited, and swung it well.”
Harris finished the day with three hits, six RBIs and a home run.
While his team was giving him a puffy cushion of runs, Railroader starting pitcher Martin Jordan was busy refusing to give up a hit on the pitcher’s mound. Through five innings, Jordan struck out 10 Hawks and allowed a single hit.
That one hit came in the bottom of the fifth inning when Hug’s Raymond Kerr skied a ball deep into center field for a triple. Then, with two outs, Jordan let a pitch get away from him and Kerr was able to sneak home for his team’s only run of the day.
The Railroaders began quickly in the first inning. Senior Kirk Putman connected for a center-field double, which brought in the game’s first two runs. Senior Tyler Dresbach grounded a ball past the Hug third baseman to bring in the team’s third run.
The offense came alive in the second inning to the tune of 12 runs. Harris began the scoring with his home run, followed by a Kirk Putman RBI single to raise the score to 7-0. Dresbach earned his second RBI when his flyball found an open area to land in center field.
Sophomore Jared Longland brought home the Railroaders’ ninth and tenth runs by squeaking another grounder past the third baseman. Senior Leonel Abundis and Harris each hit a two-run double apiece to make the score 14-0 in favor of the visiting team. Harris found home plate for the last run of the inning thanks to the help of Kirk Putman distracting the defense by getting himself into a pickle.
From that point on, the Sparks offense slowed down. But not before it churned out eight more runs.
Sophomore Keiffer Putman started the third inning by belting a pitch into the center-field wall which drove in another run to make the score 17-0. Abundis and Harris each hit an RBI single to give the team two more runs. Senior Dennis Morelli cracked an RBI double to finish the inning with a 20-0 lead.
Jordan led off the fifth inning by being granted a ground-rule double after his ball one-hopped over the center-field fence. That hit brought in the 21st run of the game. Longland and junior Kody McClelland each smacked an RBI single to bring the team to the final output of 23 runs.
After the game, Vasko talked about his team performing at the level they’re capable of playing.
“Well, we hit the ball,” he said. “We’ve got a goal in mind and we played to the best of our ability. We played the way we were supposed to play. A win like this puts a lot of confidence in our guys and our hitting. It was a good win.”
Sparks improved to 11-5 overall with the non-league win. Hug will come to visit Saturday for a rematch. The first pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.