Robinson senior Brad Kledzik started the game with a towering two-run home run and he finished it in similarly spectacular fashion by striking out three of the four batters he faced to close out the Rams' 8-7 victory over host West Springfield last night.
The victory was Robinson's eighth in nine games and vaulted the Rams (8-4, 3-1 AAA Patriot District) into the thick of the district race. West Springfield, meantime, dropped its third in a row and fell to 7-5 overall, 3-2 in the district.
"Brad came in and shut them down," Robinson Coach Bill Evers said. "He did what he was supposed to do."
Kledzik, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-hander who started the game at first base, finished 2 for 4 with two RBI. In the seventh inning, Kledzik singled and was removed for courtesy runner David McMahon, who came around to score the go-ahead run on a passed ball and error. Kledzik then took the mound in the bottom of the seventh, with the Rams clinging to an 8-7 lead, and overpowered the Spartans.
"We've really started to get solid pitching, our hitting has been coming around and we've just been playing better everywhere," Kledzik said.
Another Robinson relief pitcher, junior right-hander Paul Clemens, earned the victory to improve to 2-0. And senior Spencer Wiggins, the Rams' best all-around player, played for the first time in nearly three weeks when he pinch-hit in the seventh. Wiggins (sprained right ankle) singled in senior Billy Brubaker with the game-tying run. Brubaker was 3 for 4 with two doubles and two runs.
"That's what you have to expect from your seniors," Wiggins said, referring to Kledzik's pitching and his own clutch hit.
The Patriot District regular season race figures to be one of the area's tightest, with at least four teams -- Lake Braddock, Robinson, Hayfield and West Springfield -- capable of earning the top seed in next month's district tournament.
Kledzik's second-inning homer helped the Rams grab a 3-0 lead. West Springfield responded with four runs in the bottom half to take a 4-3, including a solo homer by senior Roland Thiele.
The teams traded the lead twice more before Robinson came to bat in the seventh, trailing 7-6. Brubaker, Kledzik and Wiggins took care of that.