Spanish Springs started what it hopes will be a long run through the loser’s bracket of the DI North regional tournament with an easy 13-2 five-inning home win over Reed on Wednesday.
The No. 5 Cougars, who fell to No. 4 Bishop Manogue in Tuesday’s tourney opener, will now play No. 7 McQueen on Thursday at Peccole for the right to be one of the final four teams standing. The Lancers upset No. 2 Carson in their opener then fell into the loser’s bracket on Wednesday against No. 3 Reno.
“We have a tough road, no doubt about it,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “It takes a lot of (work). It’s hard. But this group can do it. Somebody’s got to. It might as well be us.”
For the No. 8 Raiders, it marked the end of the 2016 season.
Reed started the spring on a tear, going 12-1, 6-0 in DI North play, but struggled down the stretch against the top tier of the region. The Raiders dropped their final seven games, including Tuesday’s tournament opener at No. 1 Galena.
“We were never consistent, game in and game out, or inning and inning out, the whole year we’d go through periods like that,” Reed coach John Phenix said. “Sometimes we could shut it down. Most of the time we wouldn’t … We had our opportunities.”
The Cougars banged out their 13 runs on 13 hits and certainly got help from six Reed errors.
Josh Prizina was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles. Dawson Martin, who was brought up from JV for the postseason, went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and three runs scored. And Alan Lummel finished 2-for-3 with a triple, a double and three RBIs.
Lummel also got the start on the bump and scattered two hits over four scoreless innings before giving way to Kyler Whiteford, another JV call up, in the fifth.
“It’s really hard in high school baseball to take a guy out that’s throwing strikes, because you never know what the next guy (will do),” Hofmann said. “Kyler has been a strike-thrower for the JV all year. He played with us on our A-team over the summer so we’ve seen him and we know what he can do.”
Whiteford left a pitch over the plate that Benny Peck deposited over the fence in left center for a two-run home but got two of the next three batters, including Austin Beard, to end the game.
Beard announced on Twitter after the game that he had been named the DI North Player of the Year. The full all-league/all-region teams will not be released until the culmination of the season.
I’m proud to say that I’ve won the 2016 Player of the Year for the North! Thank you to all my coaches and teammates for the endless support!
— Austin Beard (@austinkbeard) May 12, 2016
The Cougs took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second and broke it open with a six spot in the third.
First pitch in Thursday’s elimination game on Nevada’s campus is at 1 p.m. The Cougars and Lancers split their regular-season series, with both road teams winning.
“I’m hoping that our offense comes alive a little bit,” Hofmann said. “Maybe we swing it a little bit … I’m hoping our bats come alive and that helps us down the road.”
Reed finished the season with a 17-13 overall record.
Winner’s bracket Thursday (at Peccole Park)
No. 1 Galena vs. No. 3 Reno, 7 p.m.
Loser’s bracket Thursday (at Peccole Park)
No. 5 Spanish Springs vs. No. 7 McQueen, 1 p.m.
No. 2 Carson vs. No. 4 Bishop Manogue, 4 p.m.
No. 8 Reed, No. 6 Damonte Ranch