After the Raiders committed their third error of the sixth inning and fell into an 8-2 hole, a woman, presumably the grandmother of one of the Reed players, stood up and said ‘that’s it, I’ve had enough.’
She left the ballpark and missed a late Reed rally fall short in an 8-4 home loss to Spanish Springs, putting a period on the regular season.
“What hurt us again, was making the one or two mistakes and it escalates. We don’t close it out,” Reed coach John Phenix said. “We start throwing the ball around (in the sixth inning) … That kills you.”
Both teams already secured a playoff spot going into the contest, but the outcome did affect seeding, at least for one team. Spanish Springs (18-12, 13-9) slid up to fifth place with the win two days after blanking the Raiders at home. Reed (17-12, 10-12) remained in the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Cougs held a 5-2 edge after four innings leading up to the Raiders’ defensive blunders in the top of the fifth. Freshman shortstop Connor Culp one hopped the fence in left for a two-out RBI double to push the lead to 6-2. A booted ball and a throwing error on consecutive at bats grew the lead at 8-2.
“I thought Connor Culp had a great at bat … That kind of set things going for us, kind of got the wheels in motion,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “As it turned out, kind of big deal, starting that thing going.”
The three-run inning created breathing room the Cougs proved to need in the bottom of the seventh.
Down to their final three outs of the regular season, the Raiders loaded the bases on singles from Brandon Kernon and Jake Van Tress (2-for-3, double, two RBIs) as well as a one-out Vinnie Fillapone (2-for-3) walk. Matt Denn was hit by a pitch to cut the gap to 8-3 and Benny Peck drew a walk to bring the tying run to plate in the form of Austin Beard, one the DI North’s most dangerous hitters.
Hofmann brought Casey Miller in to stop the bleeding. He got Beard looking with a controversial strike three call on 3-2 fastball at the bottom of the zone for the second out.
“I thought we got squeezed on Beard’s pitch. I didn’t think that (was a strike),” Phenix said. “That’s not an excuse that we were going to win the game. I just think when you have one of the better hitters in the league up, he’s going to let you know.”
Miller induced the next batter, Parker Houston, to bounce a ball off the plate then made a tricky play behind the mound to get the final out of the night.
“You come in and you got one of the best hitters in the league (Beard) up and the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate … I thought it was just a big spot for Casey in a 3-2 count,” Hofmann said. “The hardest three outs are those last three. There’s no doubt about it.”
The Raiders, who outhit the Cougs 9-6, took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on a Van Tress two-run double. A base running miscue led to an inning-ending double play.
The guests responded right away with a four spot in the top of the third, aided by two walks and an error.
“We always talk about having an answer … That was a good spot for us to come back in,” Hofmann said. “A couple good at bats in the sequence. We took advantage of some errors today, some mistakes.”
Alan Lummel turned in a quality outing on the hill to pick up the win. He allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings while fanning seven and walking a pair. He also went 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs.
It’s now on to the postseason for both squads, starting with the first round on Tuesday. Spanish Springs will open at Bishop Manogue for the second straight year and Reed will go to Galena, the league champion.
DI North baseball regional tourney
Reed (8) @ Galena (1)
SS (5) @ BM (4)
McQ (7) @ Carson (2)
DR (6) @ Reno (3)
— Nathan Shoup (@Trib_Shoup) May 7, 2016
The Cougars swept the Miners this season, but that came in the first series of the year. Bishop Manogue (14-15, 14-8) finished fourth in the DI North and is fresh off a sweep of Reno.
“I really feel like they’re playing good baseball right now,” Hofmann said of the Miners. “It was a long time ago. Looking at their lineup now, it looks like it’s a little different than earlier in the year. It’s going to be difficult for sure.”
The Raiders will attempt to beat the Grizzlies for the first time this season after falling 11-5 and 10-6 a month ago. They will also be handed the task of trying to become the first team to win at Galena this year.
“We can’t make mistakes. Our pitcher has to get ahead,” Phenix said. “They’re a good hitting team. They’re not going to strike out a lot … We have to slow them down, we really do.”
Sparks edged by Fallon
Braeden Goodnough and Manny Sambrano combined to allow just two runs on six hits over seven innings for the Railroaders on Friday. The offense wasn’t able to pick them up.
The Railroaders mustered just five hits of their own and suffered a 2-1 loss at Fallon in the first game of the season-ending series.
Sparks dropped to 4-22, 1-21 in the DI-A North while the playoff-bound Greenwave improved to 17-10, 14-8.
Freshman Tanner Crow was 2-for-3 with Sparks’ lone RBI. He drove in Goodnough, who reached on a double, in the bottom of the fourth to cut the gap to 2-1.
Sparks finishes the season on Saturday with a doubleheader at Fallon. Sparks was scheduled to host the series but a spring storm forced the games east.