Cougs knock off five-time defending champs
For the first time since 2011, Spanish Springs is going to play for a regional title.
The Cougars (24-7) upended five-time defending champion Reno, 5-4, on Friday night in Carson to earn a berth in Saturday’s championship game against Galena, which sent Spanish Springs to the loser’s bracket on Wednesday.
The Huskies, who won the 4A North regular season title, ended the year with a 28-6 record.
It was Spanish Springs’ third consecutive game fighting off elimination, topping Damonte Ranch, 7-3, hours in advance to earn a date with the Huskies.
Tristian Dahir got the start for the Cougars, who played for the fifth time in four days, and picked up the win. He went four innings, allowing four runs (all were unearned in third due to three errors), on three hits. He struck out four and only walked one.
By the time he turned the game over the bullpen in the bottom of the fifth, Spanish Springs had taken a 5-4 lead on the strength of a three-run top half of the fifth. Marlin Brucato’s RBI double drove in the first run. The second scored on an error. And Culton Zuro’s pinch hit RBI single plated what proved to the game-winning tally.
Brucato threw 2.2 innings of scoreless relief, giving up just one hit and striking out three. Coach Matt Ortiz then went to ace Casey Miller with two outs in the bottom of the seventh as the tying run stood on second, the winning run at first.
Miller threw three pitches before catcher Josh Prizina ended the game, gunning down the would-be winning run trying to move up 90 feet. Miller was awarded the save.
At the plate, Prizina was 2-for-3 with a solo home run in the top of the first. Conner Culp finished 2-for-3 with a double.
The Huskies were held to four hits as a team, two from Oregon State signee, Christian Chamberlain.
Spanish Springs plays Galena (22-12) at noon on Saturday at Bishop Manogue and will have to win to force the ‘if necessary’ game immediately after. The Cougs are 0-3 against the Grizzlies this year.
Spanish Springs 7, Damonte Ranch 3
The second playoff meeting between the Cougars and Mustangs manufactured a similar result.
Spanish Springs dropped Damonte Ranch into the loser’s bracket on Tuesday with a resounding 9-0 first-round defeat, and in Friday’s first game in Carson, it ended Damonte’s season, 7-3.
With the game tied 3-3 through five and a half innings, the Cougs plated four runs and put up a zero in the top of the seventh to move on.
Culp provided the big knock in the bottom of the sixth, a go-ahead two-run double. He later scored on a Dawson Martin sac fly to end the rally.
Culp finished 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and a trio of runs scored. Batting behind Culp in the No. 2 spot, Brucato was 2-for-4 with a double and run scored.
Tanner Smith started on the hill for Spanish Springs and took a no decision, allowing three runs (two earned) over 4.1 innings. He left with the game tied 3-3 in the fifth and the go-ahead run on second.
Jordan Santos got out of the frame and threw scoreless sixth and seventh innings, on just one hit with three strikeouts, to pick up the win.