PROCTORVILLE — This is what makes baseball a great sport.
Coal Grove’s Wayne Sparks and Fairland’s Alex Thackston hooked up in a classic pitcher’s duel that produced 33 strikeouts.
Sparks got the upper hand between the two as the Hornets posted a 2-0 Ohio Valley Conference win Monday.
Sparks struck out 14 and allowed just two hits and one walk. Thackston racked up 19 strikeouts — the first 15 outs were Ks — and he gave up four hits and walked two.
“Wayne is pretty much going to be Wayne every time. He’s going to be around the plate and the only walk he had was intentional. He was throwing the ball hard,” said Hornets’ coach Dean Mader.
“(Thackston) did a great job of changing speeds. We didn’t get comfortable at the plate against him.”
Coal Grove scored the only runs of the game without the aid of a hit.
Drew Jenkins walked to lead off the third inning, stole second and went to third base on a passed.
Oakie Haynes hit a ground ball to shortstop and Fairland elected to go home, but Jenkins was able to score as the ball bounced out of the catcher’s glove on the collision at the plate.
A wild pickoff throw trying to pick off Haynes went into centerfield and Haynes came all the way around to score.
“It was a well-pitched game both ways. We made some mistakes in the one inning and it cost us,” said Fairland coach Bryan Ward.
“We knew it was going to be one of those games. We talked about it. When you’re against a good pitcher like Wayne, you have to be on top of your game and we had the one inning we didn’t make a play.”
Justin Hern had half of Coal Grove’s hits. Jake Murphy and Sparks also got hits.
Chad Fisher and Thackston had Fairland’s hits.
Not only was the win the first of the season for Coal Grove, but it was the first career coaching victory for Mader.
“It’s early, but it’s good to get rid of that goose egg and win,” said Mader.
Coal Grove (1-2, 1-0) plays at Fairview, Ky., Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Fairland (3-2, 0-1) hosts Wayne, W.Va., Thursday.
Coal Grove 002 000 0 = 2 4 2
Fairland 000 000 0 = 0 2 2
Wayne Sparks and Jake Murphy. Alex Thackston and Matt Campbell. W-Sparks (14-K, 1-BB). L-Thackston (19-K, 2-BB, 0-ER). 2B-Coal Grove: Wayne Sparks. Hitting-Coal Grove: Jake Murphy 1-3, Wayne Sparks 1-3, Justin Hern 2-3; Fairland: Chad Fisher 1-3, Alex Thackston 1-3.