Walks, errors force Reed to fight for postseason lives in Thursday’s rematch; Spanish Springs eyeing No. 2 seed
Spanish Springs drudged out a 6-2 Senior Day win over Reed on Wednesday afternoon to remain one game clear of Galena for second place with one game left in the regular season.
The Cougars (20-6, 16-5) do not hold the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies, but can clinch the spot with a win in the regular-season finale. However, the game was more consequential for the Raiders (13-18, 10-11), who entered in a tie with Carson for seventh. The top eight teams advance to the regional tournament.
Carson fell on Wednesday as well, but Wooster blanked Bishop Manogue and joined the seventh-place party with Douglas lurking just one game back.
In short, four teams separated by one game are fighting for two playoff spots heading into the season’s final day.
4A North baseball standings with one to play. It’s going to be a photo finish for eighth and final playoff spot. pic.twitter.com/na7AkHc5Kz
— Nathan Shoup (@Trib_Shoup) May 4, 2017
The Raiders were hurt by nine free passes handed out and a trio of defensive errors.
“It’s tough to win at this level when you have (three) errors. You can’t expect to win if you can’t execute on defense,” Reed coach Levi Matherly said. “You have to be better on defense, plain and simple.”
Sophomore Trevor French picked up the win for the Cougars. He went six innings, allowing two runs (both earned) on eight hits while striking out four and walking two.
Jordan Santos fanned a pair in a 1-2-3 top of the seventh to preserve the victory.
“French was good,” Spanish Springs coach Matt Ortiz said. “He fell behind some hitter early and he’s a sophomore and he’ll just keep getting better. He did an outstanding job and he’s going to help us out in the playoffs.”
As Matherly was disappointed by walks and defensive lapses, Ortiz was critical as well.
The Cougars finished 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position after starting 1-for-12.
“We just got finished talking about that,” Ortiz said. “We can’t do that in the playoffs.
“We were not sharp today as a whole. We had some baserunning mistakes … We didn’t come out sharp and a lot of it was Senior Day, the distractions and the festivities, which is no excuse … I think we battled.”
Three walks and a pair of errors helped Spanish Springs score twice in bottom of the third to go ahead 3-2, for good. Colton Forman’s sac fly accounted for the second run.
Tyler Imperato took over in relief for the Raiders with the bases loaded, nobody out, and one run already in. He got back into the dugout by inducing a pop up, Forman’s sac fly and a strikeout.
The Cougs added a single run in the fourth on a Conner Culp RBI ground-rule double and pushed two insurance tallies across in the home half of the sixth – one on a wild pitch and another on a Joey Prizina RBI single.
The wild pitch plated Culp, who was a perfect 3-for-3 with a double, RBI and three runs scored.
“The last inning was different because we had the cushion,” Ortiz said.
Caleb Ariaz followed Miah Harmon’s leadoff double in the top of the second with an RBI single to center that gave the guests a 2-1 lead. After leaving the bases loaded that inning, Reed only sent three batters to the plate in four of the final five innings.
Lincoln Turner (2-for-3, run) and Jon Pinto (2-for-4) both had multi-hit afternoons for the Raiders, who will play host to the Cougars on Thursday likely with a postseason berth on the line.
“We’ll come back and try to regroup for tomorrow,” Matherly said. “I think it’s a great way for these seniors to close it out at home in a rivalry game. I mean, shoot, you can’t want anything more than that. Hopefully the right team shows up and we get after it.”
Spanish Springs is locked into the postseason and will get a first-round home game regardless of a second- or third-place finish.
“We want to keep that No. 2 seed and it’s our rival,” Ortiz said. “These guys play with each other all summer long and are Twitter friends and are friends on the weekend. So, they’re going to want this win just as bad as the coaches.”