Cougs’ league title aspirations dry up
First-year Spanish Springs coach Matt Ortiz knows that to make a move in the 4A North, you must first get past Galena and Reno.
His Cougars have excelled in league play this spring, except for against the Grizzlies and Huskies. They’ve won 15 of 16 in games not against those two programs.
But on Saturday, they dropped to 0-4 against the two powers, coming up short in both ends of a home doubleheader against Reno by scores of 1-0 and 11-7.
“They’re the standard right now until we prove anybody wrong,” Ortiz said. “We haven’t gotten over that hump. We win a bunch of games in the season, then we lose to Galena and Reno. For us to take the next step as a program, we have to win those games.”
The pair of defeats not only snapped a 10-game winning streak, but sealed the league title race. The Huskies and Cougars entered the day tied for first, and with the two wins, and only two games remaining, Reno (26-4, 17-3) earned the tiebreaker and sealed away the No. 1 seed.
Spanish Springs (19-6, 15-5) fell to second, just one game ahead of Galena – which owns the tiebreaker over the Cougs due to the sweep earlier this spring.
Despite the defeats, Ortiz felt there was plenty be positive about heading into the final week of the season.
“I think we went toe to toe with them … I think we got Reno’s respect today,” Ortiz said. “We’re not there yet. It’s obvious. We could turn the corner in the playoffs. I mean, a playoff win against them would definitely go a long way. But right now, we still haven’t gotten over that hump.”
The Cougars can lock up the No. 2 spot next week with a pair of wins over the Raiders on Wednesday (at home) and Thursday (on the road) to end the regular season.
Reno 11, Spanish Springs 7
The Cougars came up short in Saturday’s second game despite outhitting the Huskies 13-10.
Reno just made its hits hurt.
Starting pitcher Christian Chamberlain, an Oregon State signee, belted a grand slam in the top of the second following three-straight walks and Joe Condon ripped a two-out three-run shot in the top of the fifth that pushed the Huskies up 10-5. Condon’s bomb came two batters after a routine ground ball was booted that would’ve ended the inning.
“We made errors and inopportune times,” Ortiz said. “Right now, they (Huskies) have a mental edge over us … Those errors killed us.”
In the inning before Condon’s shot to left, the Cougs pushed three across to get within 6-5. The frame ended with Josh Prizina flying out deep to right field with bases loaded.
Chamberlin was awarded the win after picking the save in game one. The favorite to be named Pitcher of the Year allowed six runs (two earned) on eight hits over four innings. He struck out nine and walked one.
Conner Culp (3-for-4, home run, four RBIs, two runs) and Dawson Martin (3-for-4, RBI, run) both caused problems at the plate.
Reno 1, Spanish Springs 0
With one out in the top of the second, Jeremy Watland plated Sawyer Jaksick (who was hit by a pitch) to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. It ended up being the game winner.
Both starters were dominant. For Spanish Springs, Jordan Santos had to wear the tough-luck loss. He went the distance, allowing the lone run on six hits while striking out four and walking no one. For Reno, Austin Wahn threw six scoreless, giving up four hits, walking five, and striking out four.
Chamberlain recorded the final three outs to pick up the save.
The Cougs were slightly outhit, 6-5, but left a staggering total of 10 men on base.
“We had our opportunities,” Ortiz said. “We just couldn’t get it across.”
4A North baseball and softball standings heading into the final week of the regular season + remaining schedules. pic.twitter.com/EKOpKqH60y
— Nathan Shoup (@Trib_Shoup) April 30, 2017
Raiders raid Hawks
Reed kept its playoff hopes alive with a pair of identical 15-0 three-inning wins over Hug on Saturday afternoon.
The Raiders (14-17, 10-10) entered the day in a three-way tie with Carson and Douglas for the 4A North’s eighth and final playoff spot. Hug is yet to win a league contest.
The schedule gets drastically more difficult next week as the Raiders go to Spanish Springs on Wednesday then host the Cougs 24 hours later in the final game of the regular season.
Reed 15, Hug 0 (3 innings)
As the final score would suggest, it was over early.
The Raiders scored 12 runs in the bottom of the first and ended the day with their second-straight 15-0 three-inning win.
Cameron Beard, Joe Salter and David Goodman combined for a three-inning one hitter, recording five of the nine outs via strikeout.
Jon Pinto (2-for-2, home run, four RBIs, two runs) and Joey Brown (2-for-2, home run, two runs) both went deep in the rout. For Brown, it was the second round tripper of the day.
Reed 15, Hug 0 (3 innings)
Jett Brook struck out three in a scoreless 2.2 innings of work and Tyler Imperato recorded the final out to complete the three-inning no hitter in Saturday’s first game.
Brown finished 2-for-3 with his first home run of the day – a grand slam in the bottom of the first to give the Raiders a 4-0 lead – and five RBIs.
Ryan Murphy finished 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and three runs scored.
Railroaders drop 13th consecutive
Sparks was shutout 4-0 and 15-0 in both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader at Spring Creek as its losing streak reached 13 games.
The Railroaders (5-19, 2-18) will try to get back in the win column on Tuesday afternoon at Truckee before its final series of the season this weekend at Fallon. Sparks’ last win came against Truckee on April 3 at Greater Nevada Field.
Spring Creek swung to 19-7, 16-5.
Spring Creek 15, Sparks 0 (4 innings)
The Railroaders were outhit 16-1 in the final game of the three-game series on Saturday afternoon.
Spring Creek 4, Sparks 0
Three of the Spartans’ four runs were scored in the bottom of the first. The home team added an insurance tally in the home half of the sixth.
Reed makes it 21 straight
By Brian Walther, reporting intern
The Raiders grew their winning streak to 21 games on Saturday with a home doubleheader sweep of the Lancers.
Reed (26-2-1, 16-2) stayed tied with Spanish Springs and Bishop Manogue at the peak of the 4A North. McQueen lowered to 11-7 in league meetings.
The Raiders do not have any midweek games next week before melting away the regular season next Saturday with a home doubleheader against Spanish Springs.
Reed was scheduled to play Hug on Tuesday and Thursday, but the Hawks are not fielding a team this spring.
Reed 11, McQueen 2
Reed’s hot start in the second game at home gave McQueen no chance to split the double header.
Senior Jessica Sellers (3-for-4, four RBIs) led the game off with a solo home run to left field, it would be her first of three home runs in the game.
“The biggest difference from game one to game two is we didn’t wait,” Reed coach Jon Wunder said. “We didn’t let her get ahead in the count. We attacked and when you can do that hitting is contagious, and we were able to chase their pitcher out of there early.”
Allies Hughes (3-for-4, RBI) followed up Sellers’ home run by hitting one of her own to center field. Carla Hernandez (2-for-3, two home runs) came up to bat with two runners on to hit the Raiders’ third home run of the inning.
The home runs didn’t stop in the second inning as Sellers and Hernandez would put Reed up 8-0 by hitting two more.
Julia Jensen started in the circle for the Raiders in both games and went five innings while striking out five to pick up the victory in game two.
Reed 2, McQueen 0
Jensen was the deciding factor in the first game on Saturday.
Jensen put on an exceptional performance, giving up just three hits while striking out 15 in a complete-game shutout to allow the Raiders to take game one.
The Raiders though did face some difficulties against McQueen pitcher Rylie Miller, who struck out 10.
“Riley is a good pitcher from McQueen, she’s gotten some big wins for them this year,” Wunder said. “We knew we had to come in and have some good approaches.”
Rheanna Smith and Hughes homered in the second and sixth innings to give the Raiders their only two runs of the game.
“We did have some kids hit a couple of home runs,” Wunder said. “That was the difference in the game. Along with the solid pitching performance from Julia.”
Spanish Springs idle
The Cougars did not play a doubleheader on Saturday. They did, however, manage to pick up a couple wins.
Originally scheduled to play Hug, Spanish Springs still picked up the victories because the Hawks realized early in the season they would not be able to field a team.
Sitting at (24-5, 16-2), the Cougs are tied for first with both Reed and Bishop Manogue. They return to 4A North play on Tuesday at Reno, then host the Huskies on Thursday before a regular-season-ending doubleheader at Reed next Saturday.
The Railroaders fell in both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader at Spring Creek, 18-7 (six innings) and 4-3.
In all likelihood, the losses ended any hopes Sparks (6-18-1, 3-17) had of finding a way to sneak into the postseason after winning game one on Friday. Spring Creek moved to 8-14, 6-12.
Sparks plays a non-league game at Truckee on Tuesday then ends the season next weekend with a three-game series at Fallon.
Spring Creek 4, Sparks 3
The Spartans scored three times in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with a 4-3 win in Saturday’s second game.
Sparks led 3-0 going to the bottom of the fifth.
Spring Creek 18, Sparks 7 (6 innings)
Sparks was outhit 17-5 and dropped a six-inning decision in the first game on Saturday.