When East’s TJ Sparr stepped to the plate with two outs in the top of the 10th inning with two outs in a game against Northwest Friday night, he didn’t feel the pressure.
Tied at 4-4, he kept his focus.
“I was so focused just because my team was on my back the whole time, cheering me on, I knew I had to do something,” Sparr said. “I knew it was my time to shine, my time to come through.
“I hadn’t been pulling my weight through the game, and I just knew I had to do something.”
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Sparr was hitless throughhis previous four at-bats, but in his final at-bat he he jammed a shot to shallow center field, allowing teammate Nick Ragias to score the winning run for East in its 5-4 victory.
Northwest took a 2-1 lead in the second inning, and went up 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth. But East rallied in the fifth and sixth to tie the score, despite starting each inning with two quick outs.
“I think it’s great whenever you’re able to battle adversity, especially against a good team like Northwest,” East coach Ryan Bensch said. “When we’re down, it’s okay because we still have more at-bats, we still have time to play.”
Both teams combined for just two hits in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Sparr’s hit in the 10th proved to be the difference as the Grizzlies went down with three quick outs in the bottom of the inning.
“We won’t know how to win until we know how to do the fundamental stuff,” Northwest coach Travis Stockam said. “East is a good team, Blue Valley was a good team the other day, but we messed it up both games, and until we can fix the little things fundamentally then we’re going to mess it up a lot this year.”
East’s Doug Jenkins pitched 8 2/3 innings before closer Adam Wasson came on in relief.
“Those first couple innings I was kind of struggling, I don’t think I was focused mentally, ready completely,” Jenkins said. “And as the game progressed my mentality just kept getting stronger.”
East will face Northwest again today as part of the Greater Wichita Athletic League Baseball Showcase.
“These are teenagers, they don’t get tired,” Bensch said. “They’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
100 021 000 1 — 5 10 2Northwest 110 200 000 0— 4 4 1