RENO — Playoffs have a way of creating unlikely heroes.
On Thursday, it was Jordan Santos’ turn. The Spanish Springs junior tossed a complete game three hitter to help the Cougars fight off elimination for the second straight day with a 5-0 win over McQueen at Peccole Park.
“You can’t say enough good things about what he (Santos) did. It was his moment,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “We’ve known that he can pitch. And he’s got good competitiveness on the mound, we played defense behind him and I think he just built off that.”
Santos only allowed three runners all day to reach scoring position.
The Cougars, who are now one of the final four teams left standing, will play Bishop Manogue on Friday at Peccole (4 p.m.) for the right to be one of the final three teams. Spanish Springs would play immediately after that game at 7 p.m. for a spot in the DI North title game and a state berth with a win over Bishop Manogue. The Miners edged the Cougars, 4-3, in the first round on Tuesday.
“The game at 7 o’clock doesn’t matter if you don’t win the game at 4 o’clock,” Hofmann said. “We’re just hoping to sneak one out tomorrow. We have to be tough.
Alan Lummel’s sac fly in the bottom of the third gave Spanish Springs a 1-0 lead. They broke it open, kind of, with three runs in the fifth.
Marlin Brucato (3-for-4, 2 runs) led off with a single and came around to score on a McQueen error trying to handle a Connor Culp groundout. Josh Prizina followed with an RBI triple. He scored on a Carson McCusker sac fly to right, accounting for the final run of the rally.
“I would like to roll up a whole bunch more than three, but we’ll take a couple (right there),” Hofmann said. “And the way Jordan was pitching, I thought if we got him three or four (it would) put a lot of pressure on them.”
Spanish Springs added one last insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a Culp sac fly.
McQueen starting pitcher Drew Clark threw a complete game, allowing four earned runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out five and walked three.
Three games into the DI North tournament, the Cougars’ starters have thrown all but one inning. Hofmann said it is unknown who will be asked to continue that trend on Friday against the Miners.
“We had five guys arguing five different ways,” Spanish Springs’ skipper said of a postgame discussion amongst the coaching staff. “It’s just a matter now of arguing, who and where and why.”