Smithfield-Selma ran into a buzzsaw on the baseball field Tuesday night.
Houston Hamilton went 3-for-3 with a grand slam and a double for five RBI, and Tyler Vaughn allowed just two hits as defending Two Rivers 3A champion Triton topped the Spartans 13-1 in a game stopped after six innings.
The win improved the Hawks to 6-3, 2-1 in conference play, while SSS fell to 3-6 and 1-2.
“We just didn’t hit, and we didn’t pitch well,” first-year SSS coach Michael Sliger said. “We had three baserunners the whole game, and you can’t score if you don’t get people on base.
“(Vaughn) is a great pitcher, but I think we could have hit him. We didn’t change our approach at the plate. We know we’re better than what we showed today. It was a bad game, and you’re going to have those in baseball. You have to play to the level of good teams and tonight we didn’t play to their level.”
Junior infielder Cody Simonson homered in the second inning and walked in the fifth, the only plate appearances keeping Vaughn from a perfect game until Trevor Branch singled to lead off the sixth.
“The homer was just timing, keeping my eye on the ball,” said Simonson, who said he had never knocked the ball out of the park in a game at any level. “That one felt pretty good. We’ve just got to learn to stay in the game the whole time. We can’t just get out of a game because somebody hits a grand slam.”
Triton, which won its first conference championship in 20 years last season, finished with 11 hits.
Brett McLamb went 3-for-3 with an RBI double.
“We started off a little slow this season, but the last two weeks we’ve really started hitting the ball and playing up to our potential,” Triton coach Joey Miniello said.
“I’m very pleased with what we did tonight. And Vaughn was great. He attacked the zone all night. We always talk about throwing strikes and making the hitters beat us. He got stronger as the ball game went on.”
Vaughn struck out six against one walk.
“My arm felt good and my fastball was working good,” said Vaughn (2-1). “But my team produced a lot of hits, a lot of offense for me. Maybe I could have had a shutout if I hadn’t left one fastball up. He hit it a long way.”
Triton scored twice in the first off starter Brandon Bales. McLamb led off with a single. Vaughn was hit by a pitch with one out before Hamilton’s double to left center scored McLamb. Bender’s fly to center scored Vaughn.
The Hawks broke it open with five runs on four hits in the second. Vaughn’s one-out, bases-loaded single scored Reed Stewart before Hamilton blasted a 1-1 pitch out of the park in left for his first homer of the season to make it 7-0.
“I missed the last two games, so it was great to be back out there tonight,” said Hamilton, the conference player of the year last season who plans to play at Brunswick Community College next season. “I felt good at the plate and got good pitches to hit. On the home run I got one I couldn’t resist.
“We really played together as a team tonight and strung together timely hits.”
SSS got on the board with two out in the second, as Simonson launched a 2-0 offering over the fence in straightaway left.
But the Hawks poured on three runs in the fifth and three in the sixth off reliever Jalyn Lee to end the game early.