Cougars hand out nine walks to Grizzlies, go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, fall into loser’s bracket
There is little debate Spanish Springs is a program on the rise.
The Cougars were a win from a state berth a season ago and own the No. 2 seed in this year’s regional tournament. But if the program is going to continue its ascent, coach Matt Ortiz knows his squad must get over the hurdle of Galena and five-time defending champion Reno. ‘
They’re not there yet.
Facing a freshman pitcher that was thrust into a start after throwing just six warmup pitches in the bullpen, and playing on their home field, the Cougars (22-7) fell 9-3 to Galena (21-12) on Wednesday afternoon in the 4A North quarterfinals, dropping into the loser’s bracket.
Of Spanish Springs’ seven defeats this year, three are to Galena (two more came against Reno).
“At some point, we have to compete against Galena and Reno,” Ortiz said. “It’s gotta come from the seniors. And it’s gotta come from a mindset. I don’t even know what to say about that.”
Mateo Lemus was slated to start his second game of the season on the bump for the Grizzlies, yet he never got there. Lemus, one of the better hitters in the 4A North, led off the game with a double, then turned his ankle in a rundown one batter later and left the ballgame.
Freshman Nolan Craddock hurriedly rushed down the bullpen and got a small handful of pitches as the inning quickly waned, forcing him to the bump.
Craddock went 4.1 innings against the potent Spanish Springs lineup, allowing a lone run on six hits. He struck out seven and walked four, picking up the victory.
“I can’t wrap my head around it,” Galena coach Beau Walker said of his freshman’s effort. “For him to come in and do that was just huge … That was really impressive.”
The Cougars’ did themselves few favors, handing out eight walks, hitting a batter, and allowing one runner to reach on an error. Of the 10 free passes, five came around to score.
“We already know that you can’t give up free 90s to anybody and expect to win,” Ortiz said. “That’s the difference.”
Trailing 4-1 in the top of the sixth, Spanish Springs walked the bases loaded with one out on just 16 pitches. Andrew West broke it open with a two-out, two-run single to center, followed by Cole Demosthenes’ two-run double to straightaway center to make the score 8-1.
West finished 3-for-3 with a home run, four RBIs and a pair of runs scored. His wind-aided two-run home run that just cleared the short porch in right gave the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth. His bomb immediately succeeded Josh Prizina’s two-out RBI single that put the Cougs in front.
“That (home run) was huge, especially with a freshman on the mound,” Walker said. “To give up the lead like that then to know the team has his back. That’s just team baseball. You get that momentum.”
A leadoff walk and error to start the fifth came around to score for the Grizzlies, making the score 4-1 before the breakout sixth.
Galena finished 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position, stranding 12. Spanish Springs was 2-for-9 in like situations, leaving nine. Prizina (2-for-4, two RBIs) was responsible for the two hits.
The Grizzlies will play Reno on Thursday at Bishop Manogue (4 p.m.) for a spot in the regional title game. The Cougars have a short turnaround, playing Bishop Manogue, at Bishop Manogue, Thursday morning at 10 a.m. in an elimination game.
Spanish Springs won both games against the private school this year, 5-4 and 5-1, last month.
“We’ve been in this position,” Ortiz said. “This is not foreign territory to us.”
Wednesday 4A North scores
Galena 9, Spanish Springs 3
Reno 7, McQueen 0
Damonte Ranch 3, Carson 1
Bishop Manogue 3, Wooster 2
Thursday 4A North semifinal (at Bishop Manogue)
No. 3 Galena – No. 1 Reno, 4 p.m.
Thursday 4A North elimination games (at Bishop Manogue)
No. 5 Bishop Manogue – No. 2 Spanish Springs 10 a.m.
No. 7 Damonte Ranch – No. 4 McQueen 1 p.m.