“It’s good to score and put some things in that we worked on during the week offensively like bunting and those kind of things,” Sparks baseball coach Greg Vasko said. “It’s not fun to be out here when it’s cold.”
It didn’t take long for the Hawks to get on the scoreboard. Joe Jones led off the game with a single up the middle and he came home when Raymond Kerr laced a shot to right field and blazed around the bases for a RBI triple.
Kerr sprinted home when Nathan Cain hit a ball off Sparks pitcher Jared Longland’s foot and it ricocheted to third base. The throw home was off the mark and Kerr slid in for a 2-0 score on the RBI fielder’s choice.
Sparks had an answer in the bottom of the first.
Leadoff hitter Brandon Coleman singled to right field and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Casey Carter singled up the middle, but Coleman was held at third until the throw back to the infield was dropped by the shortstop, allowing Coleman to score. Carter ended up on second when there was a play at the plate.
Longland smoked a ball to the gap in the right-center field, plating the tying run with a two-bagger.
The Railroaders took a 3-2 edge in the bottom of the second inning.
Colin Ray hit a line drive off the pitcher’s glove for a one-out single. He swiped second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Ray came home when a slow roller to second base was bobbled.
In the third, Sparks benefited from some good situational hitting.
Keiffer Putman led off with a walk and went to third on a hit-and-run single by Longland. Longland ended up in scoring position when the throw to third got away.
With runners on second and third, the Maroon and Gold increased its lead to 5-2 on RBI groundouts by Dustin Alexander and Brandon Friedman.
Sparks went up 6-2 in the fourth frame thanks to a misplayed ball in center field. Ray tattooed a ball to center and Kerr didn’t get under it fully. The ball bounced off his glove and Ray trotted into second base.
After a sacrifice bunt, Coleman hit a dribbler off the bottom of his bat that slowly rolled up the first-base line. It went for an out, but Ray made it home for a 6-2 score.
Sparks continued its innings-scoring streak by tallying another run in the fifth.
Alexander sat on a hanging breaking ball and sent it down the right-field line for a one-out double. Friedman deposited a ball in nearly the same spot, driving in Alexander with an RBI single, making it a 7-2 ballgame.
The Railroaders nearly instituted the 10-run mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth. They got two runs on a broken-up double play that would have ended the inning and scored two more runs on an RBI infield single by Friedman -- the only hit in an inning that saw Sparks bat around in the order.
Longland went the distance on the mound, striking out seven, while giving up four hits and three walks.
“He pitched awesome. For the first game of the season, he did a great job,” Vasko said. “I’m proud of him.”
Longland also helped his cause at the plate, recording two hits along with Carter and Friedman.
Sparks (1-0) heads to Lovelock for a Saturday doubleheader, taking on Carlin a 9 a.m. and Pershing County right after.