That’s because Spaulding’s seven-inning stint in the seven-inning game came in relief. When Robinson junior starter Chase Bailey encountered trouble in the first inning and did not record an out, on came Spaulding to bail out the Rams and throw them to a 4-2 victory at Westfield for their first district championship since 2007.
Spaulding’s previous longest stint this season was five innings, and his outing Tuesday was split — two innings before a rain delay and five after. Spaulding struck out three, walked none and gave up six hits.
Needing relief help that early in a game is the kind of development that the Rams might have fretted about earlier in the season. First-year Coach John James, who led West Springfield to the state title in 2010, noticed early in his tenure at Robinson that his players had a tendency to dwell on the uncontrollable.
The Rams (13-9) have overcome that and now have won seven of their last nine games.
“We stopped paying attention to the opponents and circumstances of games and just started focusing more on our own performance,” said James, a Robinson assistant for seven years before taking the West Springfield job for seven. “What we had to do was get over the mental stuff.
“You get into the heat of competition and you start worrying about umpire calls and start wondering who’s going to pitch and where they are in the lineup and all the different circumstances or if they had a bad at-bat carrying it with them out on defense. They got progressively better at just focusing on each pitch and handling adversity.”
Mikush drove in two runs in the district final. Baker doubled to lead off the game, took third on a bunt by sophomore Danny Herrera and scored on one of Bailey’s two hits.
Robinson hosts Langley (13-7) in a first-round Northern Region tournament game at 7 p.m. Friday. The teams scrimmaged before the season.
The quarterfinals are at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday in doubleheaders at Lake Braddock and Madison. The semifinals are May 30 and championship June 1, all at Madison.