Spanish Springs found itself facing a 7-0 deficit at the conclusion of two innings after Laguna posted four runs in the first frame and three more in the second.
Despite falling in the quick hole, Spanish Springs did not roll over and play dead. The Sparks-area squad rallied to for six unanswered runs and trimmed its California foe’s advantage to one run, 7-6 after the top of the inning.
That’s as good as it got for the Nevada state champions. Laguna blew up for five runs in the bottom of the fifth, extending its edge to 12-6.
Spanish Springs began chipping away at Laguna’s 7-0 lead by putting up two runs in the third. Brandon Leary and Colby Durski singled and scored.
An inning later, Spanish Springs got to within 7-3 after tacking on another run when Austin Hoffman singled and scored.
Then, in the top of the fourth, Spanish Springs added three more runs. Mason Bebout walked, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a Nate Hutson single. Two outs later, Whitaker singled home Hutson. Whitaker raced home after a Hoffman single and another Laguna wild pitch.
With the scoreboard reading 7-6 at that point, Morgan Moreno walked. That left Spanish Springs with the tying and go-ahead runs on base, but its next hitter struck out and that set the stage for Laguna’s late rally that blew the game open.
A day earlier, Spanish Springs, which earned the No. 2 seed from its pool, opened single-elimination bracket play with a 7-4 tourney quarterfinal win over Richfield.
The big second inning helped Spanish Springs play from ahead and keep the pressure on its Utah opponent. Whitaker singled to get Spanish Springs going in the second. After a walk to teammate Alex Van Dyne, Whitaker stole third and scored on an error. Van Dyne was later cut down at the plate, but that didn’t stop Spanish Springs from posting four runs with two outs.
Moreno singled, Durski walked and Ryan Lujan singled to load the bases. Hutson drew a walk to force in the second Spanish Springs run of the inning and then leadoff hitter Jake Galletti roped a three-run double into left field, capping the outburst and forging the Sparks-area team ahead 5-0.
“That inning was big. It was just huge,” Spanish Springs coach Brad Durski said. “Jake Galletti’s 3-RBI double was enormous. If he doesn’t get that, maybe we’re only tied at the end. “We got two line drives that were hit hard in the first today for outs. I knew we’d come out in the second inning and produce. Every one really came through.”
The early offensive production staked Spanish Springs’ starting pitcher Hutson to an early lead and he made it stand up. Hutson earned the pitching win, working five innings and allowing only one run. He scattered seven Richfield hits but did not issue a single walk. He finished with five strikeouts.
“Nate threw a lot of strikes,” Durski said. “He made 71 pitches and 47 of those were for strikes. He did what he needed to do. He throws a knuckle curve and it was fantastic. It was devastating with his fastball. He was freezing kids.”
Spanish Springs pushed its lead to 7-1 with another run in the bottom of the fifth. Whitaker walked, stole second and scored on a double by Austin Hoffman.
Durski said no Spanish Springs Cal Ripken all-star team, in any age division, had ever advanced to a tournament semifinal, meaning his club has already made some local history.