FAIRHOPE — Harrison Sparks lifted a first-inning grand slam to ignite the Fairhope Pirates’ lineup en route to a 10-1 victory over Robertsdale on Opening Day Friday night at Volanta …
FAIRHOPE — Harrison Sparks lifted a first-inning grand slam to ignite the Fairhope Pirates’ lineup en route to a 10-1 victory over Robertsdale on Opening Day Friday night at Volanta Sports Park.
It marked the first win in the first try under Fairhope’s new head baseball coach Kyle Hunter but he and his team’s focus lies on the prize at the end of the road.
“It’s great to win the first one but we talked about it yesterday, it’s more important that we try to win the last one,” Hunter said after the game. “I’m just happy that the guys had a good day today.”
The Pirates’ good day started at the plate when all 10 of the hosts’ runs came in the first two innings, thanks in large part to Sparks’ round-tripper with the bases loaded.
“Any time you pick up four RBIs with a big swing like that, there’s going to be excitement. He did a great job staying back on the pitch,” Hunter said of Sparks’ grand slam.
Fairhope sent 12 batters to the plate in a six-run first inning before nine hitters recorded an at-bat in the Pirates’ four-run second inning. Nolan Phillips and Dixon Davis joined Sparks in recording two runs scored and both Hollon Brock and Brooks Brasfield collected two hits.
Brasfield, pitching staff team up to show off control
It was Brasfield who got the nod to start the game on the hill and although he let up a leadoff single, Robertsdale didn’t record another hit until the top of the fourth. Hunter said he and the rest of the Fairhope pitchers demonstrated solid control within the zone.
“They commanded three pitches in the zone, all three guys did that today,” Hunter said. “We threw too many strikes at times I feel, but surely we will make the adjustments. There were two young guys that went out so they’re going to grow up fast and they’re going to be good for us.”
And those young guys weren’t going to be the only ones seeing time on the diamond to help the Pirates earn victories and develop a rhythm before play begins within Class 7A Area 2.
“Our first area game I think is April 13, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Hunter said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are going to contribute to this club and it’s not just the ones that started tonight so I’m excited to see them get on the field.”
Fairhope stayed ready in face of adversity
While there was certainly a chance nobody would see the field on Opening Day due to a labor dispute between umpires and the Alabama High School Athletic Association, Hunter said his guys were going to be ready for whatever was thrown their way.
“With everything that’s going on around us with the situation whether we were going to even play or not, I thought our guys did a great job handling that adversity. Then when we found out that we’re going to get to play the game, and obviously they were excited to get out and play tonight,” Hunter said. “We started with energy and we kept it through the game. Guys in the dugout, when we called them in for different roles, they did a great job and it’s just a great team win for the guys to start the season.”
Part of the ready the Pirates would have been ready no matter what has been the work they’ve put in over the offseason in getting their bodies ready to handle the season.
“Our guys committed themselves to changing the outcome from what we saw last year and they bought into the weight room in the offseason with the conditioning program that they’ve done,” Hunter said. “They’ve seen their bodies change and the results of the hard work they put in so I was excited to see them go and have some success tonight.”
Fairhope was set to get right back on its home turf the next day for a contest against Shelby County Saturday at Volanta Sports Park.
“My big takeaway is that we played really good defense and the base runners were aggressive all day, I was glad to see us moving on the ball,” Hunter said. “I think it’s a great team win for these guys.”