The Jaguars are currently ranked fifth by gaprepcountry.com while the Bears are ranked ninth.
In the modern era of Spalding High (2000-present), the Jags haven’t been in the same classification, much less the same region, as their crosstown rival Griffin until this season so for the two schools’ baseball teams to be ranked during their first year in the same region is a big achievement. The closest both schools have come to being ranked together — before the baseball teams — was early in the 2012 football season when 3-0 Griffin was ranked high in the AP prep football poll and Spalding received a vote in the poll for being 1-0-1 at the time.
“It just shows the talent that we have in this county when it comes to baseball. It’s a great thing for Spalding County that both baseball teams are state-ranked,” said Griffin head coach Kevin Mobley. “Griffin High has been known for strong football and basketball, so it is great that baseball is getting the recognition here.”
Jags head coach Mickey Moody also said he was glad for the county that both teams were state-ranked.
“It’s good for our county that Spalding and Griffin are ranked in Class AAAA. I always tell our kids that because of how hard we work in the offseason and in the season, we look forward to being recognized by the state’s coaches,” Moody said. “But the bottom line to it all is that we’re not satisfied with where we are now — it’s good to be fifth but we’re looking to accomplish even more.”
WE LIKE IT: Spalding senior outfielder Chase Pruitt noticed both Griffin and Spalding were ranked and said it was a good thing to talk about in the county.
“It’s great that we’re both ranked. Congrats to Griffin for being ranked and it will be interesting to see where we both stand at the end of the season,” Pruitt said. “They beat us Wednesday and kudos to them. We’re looking forward to the rematch.”
DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST: Griffin catcher John Pope picked off two Spalding runners at first base Wednesday, stuffing any rally attempts for the Jags. Pope said he’s really coming into his own defensively as a senior.
“I’ve been smarter behind the plate as I’ve gotten older. I made both of the calls for the pitchouts that led to the pickoffs against Spalding and I feel good about that,” Pope said.
During Griffin’s current three-game win streak, Pope has been a defensive whiz. He has caught two runners stealing a base and he has picked off four runners (2 at second base, 2 at first).
FIRED UP: Spalding senior Parker Powell had a tense at-bat in the top of the seventh inning against junior lefty fireballer Daniel Gooden of Griffin. With Griffin leading 5-2 and Spalding runners on first and second, Powell worked the count full, taking some big pitches. He finally drew a walk to load the bases for teammate Alec Hayes, who could’ve given the Jags a chance to either tie the game or lead it. Powell tossed his bat and ran down to first, pumping his fist and showing much emotion.
“I was glad I gave us a chance to possibly win the game,” Powell said. “It was a big at-bat for me — my at-bat meant we had more runners in scoring position.”
FIRED UP, PART 2: Griffin senior pitcher Trey Mallett was pumped up all game long, living and dying with every pitch call made by the umpire and celebrating when his teammates made good defensive plays behind him. After teammate Daniel Gooden won Wednesday’s Spalding game with a bases-loaded strikeout, Mallett was the first Griffin player out of the dugout to celebrate with Gooden and his teammates.
“I can’t tell you how much I wanted to win that game,” Mallett said. “It was an emotional situation.”
FULL HOUSE: The first-ever Griffin-Spalding baseball game brought a big crowd to The Bear's Den Wednesday evening and they cheered all game long for each team. What was even better was the crowd was well-behaved and no one was ejected for misbehavior.
The only exception was the top of the seventh inning, when Spalding had a chance to get back into the game. The home plate umpire's pitch calls were hotly contested in the seventh by both Spalding and Griffin supporters in the stands. No one was too rowdy, however, and the game ended without any incidents.