The Veterans Warhawks used a seven-run second inning to pull away from Howard, and then added four more runs in the third and fourth to coast to a 15-0 win in a GHSA Region 2-AAAA game Friday night.
Preston Sparks allowed only two hits in four innings of work while striking out four, while freshman Leyton Pinckney keyed the offense with a grand slam and five RBI. Veterans improves its record to 8-7 overall and 4-1 in Region 2-AAAA, while Howard drops to 2-15 and 0-6 in the region.
“Early in the year, we were losing a lot of 2-1 and 4-3 types of ballgames, and we weren’t really playing up to our standards,” Veterans head coach David Coffey said. “The last few games, we have started to hit the ball much better, and we feel good about where we are as a baseball team. Preston Sparks has been lights out on the mound in his last few starts, and we know if we can get him a few runs, we are usually in good shape.
“Now we do our best to get ready for another big test on Tuesday against Perry.”
Veterans threatened in the first, putting two runners on with only one out, but Howard starter Chris Mallinson pitched out of the jam with consecutive strikeouts. Mallinson then got two quick outs in the second, but after Ryan Mayfield reached on an error, the Warhawks opened the flood gates.
No. 9 hitter Jacob Giles doubled to right field to put runners on second and third, and Gabe Holt scored both Mayfield and Giles with a single. Tyler Daughtry singled in Holt, and after Dalton Gilliam singled and Kal Dempsey walked, Pinckney blasted a fastball over the fence in right center field to give Veterans a 7-0 lead.
“I was up in front of the box guessing he would start me off with a fastball, and that’s what I got,” said Pinckney, whose grand slam was his first high school home run. “When I hit it, I thought it was just a gapper, but when I got to second base, I saw that it had cleared the fence. I don’t know, I think the wind probably helped it out a little bit, but it was still a big thrill for me.
“But really the only thing that matters is helping my team get a big region win.”
Dempsey added three RBI during the final two innings on two hits, while Holt and Pinckney both added two hits apiece.
Howard managed only two hits, one each from Josh Raffield and Zach Cameron.