A four-run sixth inning was the difference for Shadle Park High School, in a 7-5 win over University High School at Al K. Jackson Field in GSL action on Thursday afternoon.
Down 7-2 heading into the seventh, University put together its first rally of the day to get itself back in the game.
Blake Braley started the inning with what appeared to be a harmless walk, as Shadle Park starter Johnny Kupla responded with a strikeout. But as leadoff walks often do, it would come back to haunt Kupla, as Jared Smith followed with a one-out double to put runners on second and third.
That was all for Kupla, as he exited after 6 1/3 innings of five-hit and four-run ball. Kupla walked a pair and struck out four.
"Good pitching by Jonny today and he tweaked his ankle yesterday in practice," Shadle Park head coach Ron Brooks said. "He showed a lot of heart and a lot of character to do that."
Reliever Jahden Nguyen couldn't find the strike zone, though, walking the only two batters he faced, the second forcing in a run.
Brooks went to his bullpen again, this time calling on Blake Phebus. The senior walked the first batter he faced to force in another run, as the Highlander lead shrunk to 7-5. Phebus responded with a perfect double-play ball, though, as shortstop Evan Douglas scooped up a ball, stepped on second and tossed to first to end the game.
"That was a big win for us," Brooks said. "That was a good win. This early in the year, any way you can get them."
The Highlanders had taken a 7-2 lead in the sixth after a four-run frame. The big knock of the inning came in the form a two-run double by pinch-hitter Andrew Hayes.
"In high school, hitting is so contagious," Brooks said. "That kid was throwing a good ball game and the other night when we played U-High, same concept happened. We hit the ball pretty well right at them, but high school kids, one guy gets a hit, then all the sudden they start believing. It's kind of a contagious, nice thing to happen. They're all buying into it. These kids, they work very hard at their swings, we kind of bumped into a few and it worked out well."
Mitchell Cox provided the early power with a two-run home run in the third inning that gave Shadle Park a 3-1 lead.