Johnsons play the right tune


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STAFFORD — In the late 1970s, there was a hard-funk singing duo named the Brothers Johnson that reeled off hit after hit including Top 10 hits “I’ll Be Good To You” (1976), “Strawberry Letter 23” (1977) and “Stomp!” (1980).

Well, this spring there is another brothers Johnson playing baseball at Spotsylvania High School and the hits just keep on coming.

The pair of underclassmen — Steven and Spencer — provided enough pop to allow the visiting Knights to hand North Stafford its first loss of the season.

Steve Johnson had a home run in the second inning and Spencer Johnson collected the game-winning RBI on a single in the eighth inning to give Spotsylvania a 5-4 win over North Stafford on Friday.

It was the Group AA Battlefield District teams second straight win over a Group AAA Commonwealth District opponent.

Steve Johnson, a left-handed swinging freshman, got the scoring started with a home run over the right-center field fence.

However, the Wolverines, fresh off Thursday night’s 2-0 win over Robert E. Lee (Springfield), answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. The highlights of the three-run inning were a pair of back-to-back singles by Brett Diamond and Allen Smaltz.

Chris Prescott drove in the first run and then the No. 9 hitter, Jamison Hendricks, doubled to left to score Smaltz and Prescott.

Jamison Hendricks, a sophomore, was the only player to have two hits on the day and recorded three RBI. Jeremy Hendricks, Matt Sloan, Diamond and Smaltz rounded out the six-hit attack for the Wolverines.

The Knights benefited from a controversial call to open the top of the third. Second baseman Pat Thacker hit a ball that bounced off the warning track and into the fence for an apparent stand-up double. However, the two umpires met and ruled the ball had cleared the fence for a HR closing the gap to 3-2.

Will Rogers followed with a walk and was driven in by Sean Sewell to tie the game at three. That’s the way it stayed until the sixth inning when both teams added a run and forced extra innings.

According to North Stafford coach Craig Lopez, the loss was more about what his team wasn’t able to do.

“It all boils down to execution,” Lopez said. “And tonight we didn’t execute. How may times did we have runners on base, at least three or four times, and not come through. Jamison Hendricks was the only player that stepped up with men on base.”

The defensive play of the game, and maybe even the season, came after North Stafford’s Smaltz relieved Diamond in the seventh. With two out, the diminutive Smaltz made a play not often seen at the high school level.

On a ball hit by Spotsylvania’s Greg Kirsch that was trickling foul down the third base line, Smaltz jumped off the mound picked up the ball that might have rolled foul and on one-knee threw an under-handed bullet to first base to nail Greg Kirsch by a step for the final out of the inning.

Diamond, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior, went six innings, giving up five hits and registering 8 strikeouts.

Spotsylvania sophomore Aaron Richard, who went seven innings and picked up a win on Tuesday at Colonial Forge, came on in relief for the Knights to pick up his second career varsity victory.

He also played a roll in the game-winning run. Batting in the cleanup spot, Richards laced a single to left with one out. Two batters latter Spencer dropped a perfectly-placed base hit down the right field line to score Richard.

Sean Sewell and Scott Kimble also reached base safely for the defending Battlefield District regular season champions.

“Give a tip of the hat to the way they battled us,” Lopez said. “And you can’t do many things with runners when they have a premiere catcher back there like Sewell. He throws runners out and not one ball gets passed him. That is a great luxury for a pitching staff and a team.”

The Wolverines got leadoff batters on in both the seventh and eighth innings but were unable to capitalize.

According to Sewell, who is headed to VMI next season to play baseball, his young teammates are gelling.

“We continued to keep up the intensity and showed a lot of enthusiasm out there. In the end, we stuck it out, got some pretty solid pitching and then Steve [Johnson] delivers the big hit.”

With the win, the Knights improved to 2-1 on the season and their next game is also in Stafford County at Brooke Point, while the Wolverines fell to 2-1. North Stafford travels to Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday for its next game.