But catcher Kyle Clark had other ideas. Clark took the first pitch he saw in his at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday and blasted it over the right-center field fence for a game-tying solo homer, sending the game into extra innings.
Again luck shined down on Spanish Springs and a hit batsman with the bases loaded in the eighth handed the home team a 9-8 victory over Damonte Ranch in prep baseball action. The win gave the Cougars the series sweep over the Mustangs and improved the local school’s record to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the Northern 4A.
“It’s nice to get a ‘W’. It’s a win, to be fair, I’m not sure we earned,” SSHS baseball coach Ben Hofmann said. “At the end of the day, it’s a win.”
Spanish Springs jumped out to an early lead in the first by erasing Damonte’s 1-0 edge with a three-run first inning. Kendall Murphy’s two-run double and Malcolm Anderson’s RBI groundout made it a 3-1 game after one inning.
But it was all Mustangs after that.
Damonte closed the gap to 3-2 with a run in the second, but then took an 8-3 advantage by posting three spots in both the third and fourth innings. That was also the last time the Mustangs would score.
Spanish Springs got some production from the bottom of its lineup in the fourth when No. 8 hitter Garek Tauchen tripled in a run and No. 9 hitter Shane Lawson singled him home, cutting the deficit to 8-5.
The Purple and Silver got a single run in the fifth, and in the sixth, Jake Bray’s two-out triple scored Lawson, who had led off the inning with a single. That left the hosts trailing 8-7 heading into the final inning.
“It’s uncanny. It felt just like Tuesday night where we’re in cruise control through four or five innings,” Hofmann said. “When we needed at-bats, we got at-bats. When we needed runs, we got just enough runs. And when we needed pitching and defense, we got just enough late.”
Clark’s bomb swayed momentum back into the Cougars’ dugout and the Mustangs also helped the Spanish Springs cause with mistakes in the top half of the eighth.
After Dom Austria was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the eighth and a passed ball moved him up to second, Kyle Bailey’s sacrifice bunt attempt went back to the pitcher and Austria was gunned out at third.
Still, Damonte had another good chance to score. After a second hit batsman of the inning, putting runners on first and second, Bailey tried to steal third but Clark threw him out. A groundout ended the inning, enabling the Cougs to answer with a rally of their own.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, back-to-back singles by Tim Epker and Tanner Oates put runners on the corners. Damonte was forced to intentionally walk Bray to load the bases.
That strategy backfired as a 2-0 pitch drilled Chase Kittilsen, pushing across the winning run.
Spanish Springs starts a new league series Saturday on the road at Carson. First pitch is slated for 11 a.m.
•After finishing off a postponed game in which they never had control of, the Reed Raiders had control for most of the second game of their league series with McQueen before falling 9-8 to get swept.
Reed baseball coach Ray Charles said the second loss stung more than the 14-2 defeat in Game 1 because the Raiders led 7-1 after five innings.
However, the Lancers poured it on in the top of the sixth, batting around the order to put eight runs on the scoreboard, taking a 9-7 lead.
Reed tried to battle back. The home team had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the seventh. The Raiders were able to score one run, but a diving catch in the outfield ended the game.
Charles said Ryan Butler hit the ball well and believed he finished 4-for-4 at the plate. Charles also said Jason Stroberg had three hits in the losing cause.
Reed (2-5, 0-2 in Northern 4A) travels to Douglas Saturday for an 11 a.m. contest.