Spanish Springs will have to wait at least one more year for its first state berth since 2010.
The Cougars got within one win of a spot in the DI North title game, and the resulting spot at state, but came up short, 7-0, to Galena on Friday night at Peccole Park. The loss ended a special run of three-straight elimination game victories.
“I thought we were a couple plays away from … maybe turning this thing,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “I thought the kids played hard. It was never a lack of effort or hustle. You can always appreciate their energy, effort and enthusiasm.”
The Cougars’ season ended hours after an emotional one-run victory over Bishop Manogue, a game that Hofmann said certainly had a carryover effect.
“The first game was so draining. We (coaches) were talking in the dugout, ‘man, we’re tired.’ And if we were tired, we had to know the players were,” Hofmann said. “It just took a lot out of us I think. It’s really hard to come out of that loser’s bracket for sure.”
Playing the fifth game in four days, Hofmann gave the ball to Alan Lummel just two days after he threw four scoreless innings in a 13-2 win over Reed.
Lummel lasted 4+ innings, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks with one strikeout.
The Cougars’ No. 2 starter got through three innings unscathed before finding himself in a bases-loaded jam with no outs. Timmy Lichty and Jared Kiessling ripped crisp singles then Parker Kittilson dropped down a bunt and reached when first base was left uncovered.
Austin Wickham laced a sac fly to left to score the first run. Two batters later, after a fielder’s choice, Niko Pezonella launched a triple to straightaway center to make the lead 3-0. It was ruled that Pezonella missed second on his way to third and was ruled out.
Hofmann protested, believing at least one of the runs shouldn’t count, but the score stood after a 15-minute delay. It was ruled that a live-ball appeal needed to be made before the last run crossed the play.
“I don’t know,” Hofmann said. “They said they went back in there and they talked about it and looked it up. I have to take it at their word.”
The Grizzlies stretched the lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the fifth on one swing of the bat, and it didn’t result in a jog around the bases. Lichty dotted the fence in right for a two-run triple and the relay to third hit the bag, allowing Lichty to jog home.
Spanish Springs threatened to put a dent in the deficit in the top of the sixth, putting runners on second and third with one out, only for the rally to fizzle with a pair of strikeouts.
Sami Baig added an insurance run for the Grizzlies in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single.
Nick Brown started for Galena, throwing 5.1 scoreless innings while scattering four hits. He struck out four and walked the first two batters of the game. He didn’t issue another free pass after that.
The Cougars, who finished fifth in the regular season and third in the regional tournament, ended the season with a 21-14 overall record.
“On the surface, we finished fifth in league and top three in the (DI) North,” Hofmann said. “On the surface, we’re right there.”
Galena advanced to Saturday’s title game where it will need to beat Reno twice. The Huskies have won the last four region titles.
Spanish Springs 7, Bishop Manogue 6
The Cougars extended their season a few more hours with a narrow win over the Miners on Friday afternoon at Peccole, becoming one of the last three teams standing.
The win avenged a 4-3 loss at Bishop Manogue in Tuesday’s tournament opener.
Spanish Springs scored four times in the top of the sixth to open up a 7-3 lead and it proved to need them.
The Miners scored three times in the bottom of the seventh to get within a run before Ryan Anderson, who came on in relief to get the final two outs, ended the game by inducing a ground out to second with the tying run at first and the winning run at the plate.
Derek Stuber got the start for the Cougars and allowed three runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings. He struck out three and walked one before leaving with the game tied 3-3.
Connor Culp was 2-for-3 with three RBIs in the win. He had a two-run single in the big top of the sixth.
The Miners finished the season with a 15-17 overall record.