Spoto breaks scoreless stretch with big fourth at Armwood

By Brandon WrightFeatures Writer

SEFFNER – The goose eggs just kept piling up.

Pop flys gave way to dribblers, which in turn led to punchouts. Inning after inning, game after game. Spoto just couldn’t seem to scratch across even a single run.

How long could this possibly last?

Second-year coach Stephan Knight tugged off his helmet and scratched his head. He gathered his team in front of the Spoto dugout prior to the fifth inning Thursday night against Armwood. The Spartans had once again been held without a run to that point and Knight was at wits-end.

“I was about to just start bunting away as soon as we got one runner on,” he said with a serious smile.

But Spoto’s scoring drought came to an end with a four-run outburst in the fifth and the Spartans held on from there, defeating host Armwood 4-3 last night.

“Not putting up runs has been our Achilles heel,” Knight said. “I’m glad for them that we were able to put it together, to put the bat on the ball when we needed to. I’m glad they pulled it out.”

After a season-opening 11-2 win against Middleton, the Spartans’ bats fell silent. Spoto (2-2) was blanked in back-to-back losses against Lennard and Durant, and the Spartans struck out a combined 25 times in those two games.

“We’ve been hitting the ball okay but it’s been right at people,” Spoto’s Chase Wink said. “We have had too many strikeouts but we’re getting better. It felt good to get that first (run).”

Spoto quickly looked to end the dubious streak in the first when Peyton Nisy drove a single through the box. But he was quickly erased on a double play and the Spartans managed just two more singles through four innings.

“It’s been about runs for us,” Wink said. “Our bats had to wake up.”

And they did just that in the fifth when the Spartans sent 10 men to the plate. Spoto got a pair of singles in the inning and were buoyed by a pair of hit batters and three free passes. Two of the walks forced in runs.

“We took advantage of some things,” Knight said. “It gave us the momentum, and momentum is a scary thing.”

Armwood fought back in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three to trim the lead to one as Chase Conti started things off with a single, and the Hawks picked up hits from Antonio Rodriguez, Rhys Brush and Matthew Hall.

But Nisy, who started on the mound, then gave way to Wink.

“I love pitching, especially in tight situations,” Wink said. “I’ve been in those situations over the summer and through the fall, so I’m just used to it.”

The senior right hander got the final two outs in the sixth and set down the Hawks (2-2) in order the following inning to secure the win.

“(Wink) is always poised,” Knight said. “No matter the situation. He can go 0-for-3 at the plate and go right back out there poised. He wanted the ball tonight.”

Knight noted that despite his team’s offensive struggles, he’s pleased with one big change.

“We came out and closed it out,” he said. “That’s something we just couldn’t do last year. You’ve got to be able to close.”


Spoto 4Armwood 3

S 000|040|0 – |4|5|1
A 000|003|0 – |3|7|2
W – Nisy (1-1); L – Leever; S – Wink (1)
Records – S (2-2); A (2-2).