In the end, it was the homestanding Griffin Bears who got the clutch hits and made the big defensive plays to defeat a mistake-prone Spalding Jaguars squad 5-2 in Region 4-AAAA action at the Bear’s Den. The win spoiled the return of Spalding head coach and Griffin High graduate Mickey Moody to the Bear’s Den for the first time in several years, when Moody was an assistant coach at GHS. The two teams meet again on April 17 at Spalding’s Jaguar Field.
“My guys battled and they played hard, but Griffin got the timely hits and we didn’t,” Moody said. “It is hard to win, however, when you commit four errors and don’t make the routine plays. In our three losses, we’ve given other teams runs.”
With the win, Griffin — ranked No. 9 in the state in Class AAAA by gaprepcountry.com — improves to 9-3 overall and 6-2 in region play while No. 5 state-ranked Spalding falls to 8-3, 6-3.
Since the Dutchtown Bulldogs suffered a 4-2 loss to Upson-Lee Wednesday, Griffin is now tied for first place in the region standings with Dutchtown (7-4, 6-2). Technically, Dutchtown has a leg up on Griffin for the top spot in the region due to its 4-3 win over the Bears on March 8 at Dutchtown High.
Wednesday's game was big enough to be broadcast on local radio station WKEU-FM, 88.9 The Rock.
Spalding out-hit Griffin 4 to 3 in the contest, but the four Jags errors and baserunning mistakes led to the loss for the visitors.
In a battle of senior pitchers Trey Mallett of Griffin and Powell Krepps of Spalding, it was Spalding who dented the scoreboard first. Jags left fielder Parker Powell smashed a triple to center in the top of the first inning to score teammates Drew Compton and Anson Link, who both singled, for the quick 2-0 lead. Spalding had a chance to score another run, but Bears catcher John Pope picked off a runner at first and Mallett struck out the side to end the inning.
Griffin cut the lead in the bottom of the first. Quantico Dodson walked, stole second and scored on a single by second baseman Cornelius Randolph to make the score 2-1, Spalding. Mallett, who admitted to nerves in the first inning, said he settled down once his team scored a run.
“I was able to settle down after that first inning. The guys got timely hits and played great defense behind me, with John Pope picking off guys in this game,” Mallett said. “I’m so happy that I got to pitch and get a win against Spalding.”
Spalding got the leadoff batter on base in the next four innings (2-5) but couldn’t score. Griffin broke the game open in the third inning. Tripp Bridges reached on an error and after Spalding first baseman Alec Hayes made a nice diving catch for the first out, Quantico Dodson and Keyston Fuller walked to load the bases. Randolph then lined a 1-2 fastball deep to center field which just fell off Louis Farlow’s glove for an error, clearing the bases for a 4-2 lead.
“I was looking for a curve ball, but [Krepps] threw a fast ball and I hit it pretty well. I thought the center fielder was going to catch it because he was shading me in the gap,” Randolph said. “When it fell to the ground, I said to myself that was pretty big.”
Spalding made things interesting in the top of the seventh with Griffin leading 5-2. After getting two outs, Mallett walked Compton and Link and was replaced on the mound by starting first baseman Daniel Gooden. Powell coaxed a full-count walk from Gooden to load the bases for Hayes, but Gooden struck him out swinging for the save and the jubilant Bears rushed out to celebrate.
“It’s really nice to beat our city rival Spalding and play well doing it,” said the senior Pope, who picked off another runner in the fourth inning. “I made the right calls on the pickoffs and we played well as a team; that was really sweet.”
“I think I pitched decently, but every time we had some momentum we killed it with errors,” said Krepps. “We didn’t get the clutch hits tonight, but we’ll be ready for Griffin when they come to Jaguar Field next month.”
Griffin plays at region foe Locust Grove TODAY at 6 p.m. due to LG's prom on Friday. Spalding gets back in action Friday, hosting region foe Upson-Lee at 6 p.m.
Spalding 2, Locust Grove 1 (Tuesday): LOCUST GROVE — Parker Powell pitched 6 strong innings and the Spalding Jaguars scratched and clawed their way to a 2-1 victory over the Locust Grove Wildcats Tuesday evening in Region 4-AAAA baseball action on the road.
The game was a makeup contest due to the Monday rainout.
"We pitched very well and played good defense behind Parker," said Jags head coach Mickey Moody.
Louis Farlow's RBI single in the fourth inning drove home Powell Krepps for the 1-0 lead. LG tied it at 1-all in the fifth inning, but in the sixth inning Chase Pruitt scored from third on a wild pitch for the final 2-1 margin.
Powell struck out 8 and walked one on five hits in his 6 innings of work and Krepps pitched the seventh for the save, striking out 2 in the process.