RENO—Friday’s DI North contest between Spanish Springs and Carson at Greater Nevada Field lived up to the billing.
The Cougars threw their ace, Ryan Anderson. The Senators threw theirs, Bryce Moyle. Both are Pitcher of the Year candidates. And both threw like it.
So it was only fitting that the first run of the game, was the only run of the game.
With runners on first and second and one down in the bottom of the seventh of a scoreless tie, No. 9 hitter Daulton O’Connell sent everyone home. O’Connell ripped a single through the left side that allowed Noah Parks to score from second and give Spanish Springs a 1-0 win.
“There’s no better feeling,” said 0’Connell, who was gang tackled by his field-storming teammates.
The win was a big one for the Cougars. They improved to 15-4, 10-1 and remained in a tie for first place with Galena. The Senators (13-7, 7-4) dropped three games back of the Cougs and Grizzlies.
Anderson, a Nevada commit, threw a masterpiece to pick up the win. He surrendered just two hits while striking out 11.
“I knew I was going to have to put up some zeroes,” Anderson said. “I know Bryce (Moyle) is really good. It was a pitcher’s duel coming in and it was exactly what everyone thought. I was just really glad my boy Daulton got that hit.”
Moyle suffered the tough-luck loss for Carson. He went 6.1 innings, allowing the lone run on seven hits. He also struck out 11.
He held the Cougs to 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position to keep a zero on the board until O’Connell’s heroics.
“Bryce was just terrific today. Ryan was terrific today. It’s one of those where you kind of hate to see a guy get a loss there,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “I’m glad we got the win, don’t get me wrong … It was fun. It really was fun.”
In O’Connell’s first at bat against Moyle, he dug in with runners on second and third and two outs in bottom of the second. He became one of Moyle’s 11 strikeout victims.
He admitted the strikeout crossed his consciousness in the bottom of the seventh.
“I try to clear my mind after strikeouts but it was in the back of my mind,” he said.
The table was set for his walk off after No. 7 hitter Noah Parks parachuted a single to shallow right that second baseman Jace Keema got a glove on but couldn’t corral. Parks’ single ended a stretch of nine-straight batters retired by Moyle. Freshman shortstop Connor Culp then blistered a one hopper that bounced off the shortstop’s shin, allowing Parks to move up 90 feet.
“7-8-9 were big today. They really were,” Hofmann said. “You can’t always count on your (top of the lineup) … Daulton, I couldn’t be happier for him today.”
Carson only got one runner past first base all afternoon and that came in the top of the second.
Keema reached on a single and two batters later tried scoring when Terek Been blooped a single to right. Right fielder Carson McCusker dove for the floater and came up short but popped and started the relay home which was in plenty of time.
“That was huge,” Anderson said. “I was pumped after that one.”
He did not allow another hit the rest of the way.
The two teams will conclude their regular-season series on Saturday. Spanish Springs will have to hop on the bus early for an 11 a.m. start in Carson.
“We’re just trying to accumulate wins at this point in the season,” Hofmann said. “Every win is important. We’d like to get as many as we can and tomorrow is no different.”
Railroaders fall to 0-11
Sparks has played 15 games this spring. Friday was just its second at home.
Playing on the home field didn’t help, however, as the Railroaders were shut out 6-0 by Fernley.
Sparks now sits at 3-12, 0-11 in the DI-A North. Fernley moved to 10-7, 9-3.
The Vaqueros scored twice in the second and twice in the third and that 4-0 lead held until the sixth when the guests scored twice more.
Sparks was outhit 8-4 in the loss.
The two squads will play two on Saturday at Sparks. First pitch of the doubleheader is at 11 a.m.