The Cougars were saddled with a 3-0 home loss to Douglas in a Northern 4A League game that was shortened to five innings
after snow and sleet forced officials to call off the remainder game.
Spanish Springs trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth and had a runner on and the potential game-tying run at the plate with one out. That’s when the umpiring crew sent both teams to their respective dugouts for a delay. Conditions did not improve, leaving the umpires to call the game. The score reflects the score at the last completed inning, thus accounting for the final 3-0 margin. That was what the scoreboard read after five complete innings.
If the game had been tied, umpires would have suspended the game and allowed the teams to pick up where they had left off at a later date. That is not an option in a game not tied, according to NIAA rules.
Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann was less than thrilled after getting stuck with the defeat in the shortened affair, especially after his club had begun to show some late signs of offensive life.
“I’d like to see that rule changed,” Hofmann said. “But then maybe it helps us next time. I’d be OK going to Douglas Saturday and finishing the last two innings.
“It may hurt us or help us. But at the end of the day, I’d rather play the complete game ... Especially because it’s such a big game, such a big series. You’d like the chance to play seven innings. We hadn’t done much to that point, but who knows. You’d like the opportunity to see what happens in a close game.”
Trailing 3-0 entering the bottom of the sixth, Spanish Springs got a leadoff dinger from senior Chase Kittilsen, trimming the DHS lead to 3-1. After a groundout, Nikk Audenried singled. that’s when the game went into a delay and was eventually called, effectively wiping out the sixth inning.
Douglas did its offensive damage with single runs in the first, third and fourth innings.
Tigers No. 3 hitter Cody Begovich blasted a solo homer to left field in the top of the first. Douglas leadoff hitter Leo Trebotich singled, moved to second on a balk and came plateward on a Caleb Foster double in the third, extending the Tigers’ lead to 2-0.
In the top of the fourth, Nolan Weitz walked, moved up on a groundout and scored on an RBI single by Matt Santos for the 3-0 score.
Spanish Springs struggled to string much together on offense. It could not get a leadoff runner on base until the fifth. Hunter Fralick turned that trick after reaching on an error, but he was erased when Gehrig Parks followed with a fielder’s choice.
The Cougars still wound up loading the bases with one out, but Douglas got out of the jam when its left fielder made a diving catch to rob SSHS No. 3 hitter Matt Mannens of a base hit. The Tigers then doubled a Cougars baserunner on second base, ending the inning and nixing the threat.
Douglas starting pitcher Kyle Johnson was credited with a five-inning complete-game shutout. He finished scattering five hits in a four-strikeout, two-walk outing.
“Johnson did a good job mixing up his off-speed pitches,” Hofmann said. “He had a decent live fastball with kind of a short-arm delivery and our guys had a hard time sizing it up. We were out in front a lot on a lot of stuff.”
Parks took the pitching loss for Spanish Springs. He allowed the three runs, all earned, while limiting Douglas to five hits in five innings of work. He struck out seven and walked two, one intentionally.
“He did exactly what we asked him to,” Hofmann said. “He’s been great in both of his starts. We’ve given him one run in those two starts. He did everything we wanted him to do. In five innings pitched he gave up three runs. You like your chances most of the time when that happens. In my book, that’s a quality start.”
The two teams resume their two-game series Saturday with a single game at Douglas. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.