Reed pushes into 4A North title, Pair of walk-off wins keep Spanish Springs alive
RENO – Reed deposited four pitches beyond the fence at Bishop Manogue on Friday evening and scored five times in the bottom of the sixth to surge past the Miners, 9-5, in a 4A North semifinal.
The final home run of the game was the most consequential.
In the half inning subsequent to the Miners scoring twice to grab a 5-4 lead, Ali Hernandez dotted the scoreboard in left for a go-ahead two-run homer, sparking the five-run rally in the home half of the sixth. It was the first home run of Hernandez’s career.
“On that at bat, I was like ‘ok, I’m going to play for the run,’ so first pitch I have her square (to bunt). Nothing,” Reed coach Jon Wunder said. “Then I’m like, ‘you know what? I’m going to let her swing.”
She swung the Raiders (33-2-1) into the regional title game on Saturday at noon, stretching the win streak to 28 games. They will await the winner of Spanish Springs-Bishop Manogue.
The meeting provided some additional motivation for the Raiders, who were swept in a doubleheader on the same field in March. They haven’t lost since. Senior catcher Rheanna Smith didn’t play in either of those games while battling back from a devastating knee injury.
But she played on Friday and delivered a monstrous two-run home run to left center in the bottom of the third that tied the game at 3-3. Carla Hernandez followed the next pitch with a go-ahead solo home run to center. Hernandez finished a perfect 4-for-4 with two RBIs.
“That cleared the tree. You know what? We didn’t have (Smith) when we played these guys earlier,” Wunder said. “She’s just a competitor.”
Bishop Manogue (29-6) jumped out to a 3-0 lead just three batters into the game. Two infield singles brought Hailey Merlino to the dish with two on and she became the first of two batters to hit the scoreboard.
Julia Jensen kept the Miners’ high-powered offense off the board (literally and figuratively) until the sixth when Megan Lawson and Michaela King delivered RBI singles.
“She (Jensen) pitched a stellar game after that first inning,” Wunder said. “We kept their big bats off.”
Jensen allowed five runs (all earned) on 10 hits while striking out 10 and walking just one in the complete-game victory. The win pushed her career total to 96, hours after she set the state record in a 3-1 victory over Damonte Ranch.
Leadoff hitter Jessica Sellers was 3-for-3 with a home run and two doubles. Her solo blast to left led off the bottom of the first to chip into the early 3-0 hole.
By winning their first three games of the tournament, the Raiders are now in the advantageous position where they only need to win once on Saturday out of two possible games.
“It’s better,” Wunder said. “You have to win versus three (Bishop Manogue has to play Spanish Springs at 10 a.m. for a spot in the title game). Who knows what the weather is like … it’s a tough spot to be in.”
Reed is playing for what would be its fifth-straight regional title and the 4A North’s lone state berth.
Reed 3, Damonte Ranch 1
RENO – Leave it to arguably the best pitcher in state history to morph a playoff victory into a footnote.
Reed beat fourth-seeded Damonte Ranch, 3-1, in the second round of the 4A North playoffs at Bishop Manogue on Friday afternoon for its 27th consecutive win. That was not the story.
The story was Nevada-bound Jensen breaking a 14-year-old state record for career wins. Reed’s senior struck out 16 and allowed a lone run on four hits to pick up her 95th career win. She surpassed Wooster’s Brianne McGowan, who won 94 games from 2000-03.
“She (Jensen) had an incredible career here,” Wunder said. “We wouldn’t be where we’re at without her help. Her teammates pick her up, they do a great job behind her. If anyone deserves it, it’s her.”.
Jensen won the game with her bat just as much as she did with her right shoulder. Allie Hughes led off the home half of the first with a single and Jensen followed with a two-run home run. It was all she needed.
Hughes added an insurance run in the bottom of the third with a sac fly and that did it for the scoring.
Damonte (19-11) scored its lone run in the half inning prior on an Emma Covert solo home run.
Damonte’s Ally Young became the 95th pitcher to be stumped by Jensen, despite a sterling effort of her own. She allowed three runs (all earned) on four hits while fanning seven and walking one. She went the final 4.2 innings without surrendering a hit.
Cougars win in last at bat twice, advance to tournament’s final day
RENO – Spanish Springs rallied all the way back from a 10-5 deficit to walk off Reno, 11-10, on Friday evening in a 4A North regional tournament elimination game at Bishop Manogue.
The Cougars (28-8) walked off for the second time of the day, avenged a first-round loss to the Huskies, and survived their third-straight elimination contest.
With the game tied 10-10 in the bottom of the seventh, one out, and the bases loaded, junior shortstop Courtney Huff hit a ground ball to second and Alysa Micone beat the throw home for the game-winning run. Micone (3-for-4, RBI, three runs) tied the game at 10-10 thee batters prior with an RBI single through the left side, driving in Amidori Anderson.
Anderson left off the inning with a triple into the right-field corner.
Rylee Retzer was 3-for-3 with a grand slam, double and six RBIs. She delivered her grand slam in the bottom of the third to pull the Cougs within 6-5. Retzer’s blast was her third of the tournament.
Spanish Springs will play Bishop Manogue at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning for a spot in the 4A North title game against Reed. Whoever emerges from the play-in game would have to beat the Raiders twice.
Spanish Springs 3, Damonte Ranch 2 (8 innings)
RENO – Freshman Hunter Travers came through with a pair of huge hits late in Friday’s first 4A North elimination game at Bishop Manogue against Damonte Ranch to keep the Cougars’ season alive.
Her second clutch hit in as many innings, a two-out walk-off RBI single to right lifted Spanish Springs to a 3-2 win.
One inning prior, she led off with a triple down the left-field line and scored on a Tyra Clary sac fly to deep center, tying the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Clary’s fly ball was within a foot from sailing beyond the fence for a walk-off home run.
Clary threw all eight innings and picked up the win. Both runs she allowed (single tallies in the third and fifth innings) were free passes that came around to score. Shortstop Brylynn Vallejos drove in both runs. Her RBI infield single gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead and her bloop single to left made it 2-0.
Katelyn Townsend dropped down a squeeze bunt to score Anderson (who reached on a triple) to get Spanish Springs within 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth.
Ally Young went the distance for the Mustangs and wore the loss.
4A North winner’s bracket
Reed 3, Damonte Ranch 1
Bishop Manogue 11, Reno 5
Reed 9, Bishop Manogue 5
Spanish Springs 3, Damonte Ranch (8 innings)
Reno 7, McQueen 0
Spanish Springs 11, Reno 10
Saturday schedule (at Bishop Manogue)
No. 3 Spanish Springs – No. 2 Bishop Manogue 10 a.m.
Spanish Springs/Bishop Manogue – NO. 1 Reed 12 p.m.
Spanish Springs/Bishop Manogue – Reed to follow (if Reed loses first game)