The Cougars wasted absolutely no time pouncing on the hosts.
Matt Mannens led off the inning with a shot over the left field fence to get the scoring started for the visitors. A walk set up senior Chase Kittilsen for an RBI-triple to the center field wall. After another walk, Kittilsen was singled home by Anthony Tiscareno to put the Cougs ahead 3-0.
Vinny Agliolo scored next on a double by Chadd Little before a Taylor McBroom double down the right-field line plated two, bringing the score to 6-0. A single from Kenny Semenko pushed the lead to 7-0 before Spanish Springs recorded its first out of the inning. Back-to-back walks and a hit batsman sent Semenko home for the eighth run of the inning before Agliolo closed out the onslaught with a sacrifice fly to left field, leaving the scoreboard reading 9-0.
“The first inning was real nice,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “We put the ball in play and we put some pretty good swings on the ball. That kind of got us off to good start. We had a pretty good approach all day. I was really happy with the first inning.”
The score remained 9-0 until the Panthers got on the board for the first time in the bottom of the third inning on a passed ball, cutting the deficit to 9-1.
Spanish Springs responded to the single run with four more of its own in the top frame of the fourth, capitalizing on a number of North Valley errors and passed balls to push its advantage to 13-1.
With the game seemingly over, the Panthers put a scare into the Cougs in the bottom half of the fourth.
Loading the bases with one out, North Valleys took advantage of a number of mistakes in the outfield by Spanish Springs. The Panthers sent three across the plate before sending four more home with two outs to slice the Cougars lead to 13-8 with three to play.
“After the first inning it got pretty sloppy,” Hofmann said. “We weren’t very good defensively and luckily we scored enough runs to win. I think it was a lack of just staying in the game. We were up so big and I think guys got relaxed and that’s what happens.
From that point the bats quieted for both squads. Each side tallied a run in its at-bats during the fifth inning before a scoreless sixth left the margin at 14-9 heading into the final inning.
Not wanting to leave any opportunity for a seventh inning comeback, the Purple and Teal put together a two-out, five-run rally. The inning was highlighted by a trio of triples from Taylor McBroom, Shannon Kelly and Nikk Audenried that helped build the Cougars’ cushion to 19-9.
“We swung it well today,” Hofmann said. “We had a couple innings in the middle where we weren’t very good, but then we got back on it late. We had a little better approach against the lefty today so that was nice.”
North Valleys added another run in the bottom of the seventh on a home run by sophomore Kody Miligan, leading to the final of 19-10.
Kittilsen started on the mound for the Cougars, pitching three and a third innings while striking out four and walking four, giving up three runs. Jose Ruiz came on in relief, recording an out while allowing five runs. Tiscareno also took the bump, pitching one and a third innings with three strikeouts and a walk along with a run against. Mannens closed out the game, recording a pair of strikeouts.
Spanish Springs (5-5, 3-2 Northern 4A) will go for its first league sweep when it host North Valleys on Saturday at 11 a.m.
•The Reed baseball team made easy work of visiting Wooster in its Northern 4A contest, crushing the Colts 27-2 for the league victory Thursday afternoon.
The offensive assault saw the Raiders belt out 20 hits, including back-to-back home runs and a grand slam.
Reed jumped on Wooster from the start, scoring five runs in the first inning before sending three more runners across the plate in the second.
In the third inning, the Raiders exploded for 13 runs. The bottom frame started with leadoff back-to-back jacks from Connor Cox and Ryan Butler, but that was just the beginning of the run display. To end the inning, Sophomore Joey Dice sent a ball over the fence for a grand slam, pushing the advantage to 21-2.
Six more runs were added in the fourth inning, leading to the 27-2 final.
“We hit the ball and they made some errors to help us out,” Reed coach Ray Charles said. “We just pitched real well and got some really good hitting, and on top of that they made a lot of mistakes. It was just one of those games where the ball bounced our way.”
On the mound for the Blue and Gold, Mark Nowaczewski pitched all five innings, striking out 10 batters and walking two for the win.
After starting Northern 4A league play off slow, the Raiders secured their first league win of the season earlier in the week. Now Reed (6-4, 2-3 Northern 4A) will try to string together three league wins as it goes for the sweep of Wooster on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at WHS. Charles said his team is keeping its focus.
“We started off OK and then we struggled, and then we won the other day so we’re just trying to gather some momentum. Today we just took advantage of some errors and we just kind of kept putting some hits together. Next thing you know, it got a little out of control. We just did what we needed to do. It’s only one game. They’re going to come out Saturday and they’re going to be fired up to play us so we have to be ready for that and play well. We have to move on and get better for Saturday.”