Sparta upsets Pinckneyville in first round of Regional
Hunter Riggins is welcomed back to the dugout after scoring on Monday. (Doug Daniels Photo)
By Doug Daniels
1351sports.com / pinckneyvillesports.com
May 14, 2018
(Pinckneyville, Ill.) - The Panthers' 2018 varsity baseball season was cut short on Monday in the first round of the IHSA Class 2A Regional in Pinckneyville, as Sparta pulled off the upset of PCHS 7-6.
Sparta got an unearned run in the top of the first inning after a pair of walks and an error, but the Panthers were able to grab a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the third on a pair of Sparta errors, a sacrifice fly by Tyler Rice, and a three-run homer by Austin Alspach.
Hunter Riggins got the nod on the mound for PCHS, as they attempted to save ace lefthander Grant Jausel for a potential matchup with top-seeded Nashville later in the week. Riggins was cruising until the top of the fifth where Sparta scored four times on four hits, including a two-run blast from Adam Krisby that gave the Bulldogs the lead at 5-4.
Pinckneyville then put themselves in position to win the game in the bottom of the sixth, as with two outs, Reid Keene drew a walk, Riggins tripled, and Rice singled in the go-ahead run to make it 6-5 Panthers.
Kyle Kreger, on in relief of Riggins, had tossed a scoreless sixth and was sent back out in the seventh to try and finish it off, but he walked the leadoff man before a sac bunt attempt resulted in an error to put a second runner on with nobody out.
That forced Jausel into the game, and the first batter he faced, Krisby, again attempted a sacrifice. This time the bunt was placed perfectly, just getting by Jausel to the vacated second base area, loading the sacks with Bulldogs with nobody out.
Sparta's Tyler Opolka then singled in a run to tie it, and two batters later, a missed sign left Isaac Sinn stuck between third and home on what was supposed to be a squeeze play. The Panthers had Sinn in a rundown, but the ball got away from Kreger at third, allowing Sinn to race home with what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Rice (1-2, RBI, SAC, BB), Alspach (1-4, R, 3 RBI, HR), Kreger (1-4), Riggins (1-3, 2 R, RBI, 3B), Ethan Bowen (1-4, 2B) and Kyle Luke (1-4) had Pinckneyville's hits.
The Panthers ended the year with a record of 12-16, while Sparta improved to 2-16 and advanced into the semifinal game against the Nashville Hornets on Wednesday.
(Photos by Doug Daniels / PinckneyvilleSports.com)