The loser’s bracket in the 4A North baseball regional tournament is ruthless. Ask Spanish Springs.
The Cougars tried to slay the double-elimination dragon last week and got within one hit of winning its fifth straight elimination game and celebrating its first title since 2011. Ultimately, the grind of playing for the seventh time in five days, the fifth in three days, was unsurmountable.
Galena ended the run, surviving a 16-15 marathon in eight innings. The teams weren’t playing on even ground. While Spanish Springs’ uniforms were starting to wilt, Galena entered the day playing its fourth game in five days following an off day on Friday.
VIDEO: The 416th (yes, 416th) and final pitch + ensuing dog pile. https://t.co/i5STDG6MdQ
— Nathan Shoup (@Trib_Shoup) May 14, 2017
The Grizzlies earned the shorter path by winning their first three games. Even after the season-ending loss, Spanish Springs coach Matt Ortiz said he’d be opposed to an adjustment in the configuration.
“The format is fine. It is what it is. You earn it. You win and you stay in the winner’s bracket and you have an advantage,” he said. “That’s the way it should be. That’s tournament baseball. I don’t think there should be any changes to the system.”
The system has berthed an established formula for winning the regional title: Avoid the loser’s bracket as long as possible. So, shockingly, winning helps.
Going back to 2011, when Spanish Springs last donned the regional crown, six of the seven champs won their first three games. The lone exception, the 2015 Reno Huskies, dropped their third game then rattled off three straight – two against Galena in the title game.
The 2011 Cougs and Galena this year are the only other teams to win a regional title without going a perfect 4-0 in tournament play. Both teams lost the first title game and survived the ‘if necessary’ game.
Oddly enough, another formula exists for grabbing the regional title: Avoid the No. 1 seed.
Over the last seven years, only the 2014 Reno Huskies took a No. 1 seed into the postseason and won the title.
Two No. 2 seeds (2015 Reno and 2012 Reno), three No. 3 seeds (2017 Galena, 2016 Reno, 2013 Reno) and one No. 4 seed (2011 Spanish Springs) have won over that time.
The equation is much more simple on the softball side: Be Reed.
The Raiders just won their fifth straight title, own a 22-2 regional tournament record over that time, and have won their last 13 regional tournament games overall.
Spanish Springs’ 16-15 loss (likely) sets records
The numbers from Saturday’s 16-15 eight-inning endurance expedition between Galena and Spanish Springs are staggering.
Total runs: 31.
Free passes (walks and hit batters): 26.
Pitchers used: 13
Runs scored in the eighth inning: 9.
Time of game: Nearly four hours.
And that doesn’t even include the most astounding statistic. The two teams combined to throw 416 pitches, only 221 of which were strikes. More than 47 percent of the pitches were called balls.
Josh Prizina set a 4A state record by drawing four walks (after hitting two three-run home runs in the 17-3 game-one win). But other than that, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association doesn’t keep records for categories like runs scored in extra innings, number of walks, or total pitches thrown.
So, let’s just say those are all state records. It’s reasonable, and it sounds better.
Reed’s King-Shaw, Ocegueda signing letters of intent
Reed distance runners Sam King-Shaw and Anthony Ocegueda will sign national letters of intent at a ceremony in the school’s gym this morning.
In January, King-Shaw and Ocegueda were both named the Nevada Gatorade Male and Female Cross Country Athletes of the Year. The duo won individual titles in the fall.
On Saturday, they stood out at the 4A North meet in Carson. King-Shaw won the regional title in the 3200 meters and took third in the 1600m. Ocegueda also won the 3200m, took second in the 800m, and qualified for state as a member of the Raiders’ 4x800m relay that finished second.
King-Shaw will run for Washington State University and Ocegueda will sign at Utah Valley – A WAC program in Orem, Utah.
Nathan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning. Nathan’s weekly radio show airs Fridays at noon on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM.