During the South County baseball team's match with 2009 defending Northern Region champs West Springfield on April 16, there were a variety of factors that made this Patriot District game more than a routine meeting.
First there were professional scouts in attendance tracking the pitches of West Springfield's Bobby Wahl, adding a degree of pressure to both teams. Then the weather didn't cooperate as strong winds and intermittent rain plagued the game.
On top of all that, this was a game that the South County baseball team had been waiting for, a game that could judge how far the team had come this season.
"Our focus is on winning a Patriot District championship, and we need to take that one game at a time," said South County junior pitcher Evan Beal. "We need to focus on playing error free baseball.”
Due to the weather, the game turned into a pitching duel, with Beal keeping pace with Wahl. While Wahl used his powerful pitches to strikeout batters, Beal relied on his team's defense to help turn in double plays and end innings.
As the game progressed, the Spartans showed why they are defending Region champs and broke the game wide open. With two runs walked in, after pulling Beal out of the game, the Spartans drove in a few more and the game ended 6-1.
While the loss comes as a disappointment, South County head coach Mark Luther is hoping the team can take away lessons from this game and build on them.
“The focus from here needs to be on starting up a new winning streak," he said. “Positives can be learned from this game. West Springfield is a highly talented team, and we certainly were competitive with them all night.”
South County junior catcher Mikey Perez said that a winning streak is linked to his teammates working hard individually and as a team.
“I need to improve behind the plate and everyone can work a little harder after this," he said. "We just want to come out and compete every night."
As the season moves on, and the team continues to improve and work towards that Patriot District title, a rematch with the Spartans is somewhere in the near future, and you can bet that it will be just as intense.