The Spalding High Jaguars baseball team used five pitchers and made several lineup changes, but it wasn’t enough to secure the victory as the team lost 9-8 to the Upson-Lee Knights in the Jags’ season opener Friday night.
The Jags (0-1) had three leads in their home opener Friday, but couldn’t hang on to either of them on a chilly night in a non-region game that lasted four hours.
At first, this game looked like a Spalding runaway as the Jags jumped on the Knights for a 3-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to a two-run double to center from Jags catcher Pat Gasses.
Upson-Lee scored one run in the fourth and tied the game at three in the top of the fifth on a two run single to left by Mitchell Eubank.
Spalding took the lead in the bottom half of the fifth, as DH Casey Moody had an RBI single and then scored from third on a double steal for a 5-3 Spalding lead. Aggressive baserunning allowed Upson-Lee to take the lead in the sixth. Drew Watkins walked and reached third on a bunt to Jags third baseman Dylan Griffin, who made a nice barehanded throw to first to get Austin Masten out.
Watkins then scored on a Joe Williams single to first as Jags first baseman Caleb Gavel was late on the throw home, cutting the lead to 5-4. After the Knights loaded the bases, they scored off a grounder to tie the game at five. Upson-Lee then took its first lead of the game, 7-5, on a two-run error by Jags shortstop Powell Krepps.
Spalding recaptured the lead in the sixth as Moody walked with the bases loaded, Michael Martin scored on a wild pitch and Gasses beat out a double-play grounder for an 8-7 lead. The lead was short-lived as the Knights loaded the bases again in the seventh on Spalding’s fifth pitcher of the game, Josh Siegler, and took the 9-8 lead on a sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout.
Watkins pitched to Spalding in the bottom of the seventh and retired the side to end the game.
Spalding finished with 10 hits and Upson-Lee totaled 6 hits.
The Jags are back in action Friday and Saturday March 5 and 6 at the Washington County tournament in Sandersville, Ga. They face Washington Co. on Friday and Vidalia on Saturday.