“I love the atmosphere here,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “We’ve done this now for three years and have absolutely loved it. It’s a fun game to be a part of.”
While fans were still finding seating, Spanish Springs had already put itself in a jam. Three consecutive walks kicked the game off for the Cougars, but unfortunately for Reed, the Raiders were only able to manage one run in the inning — when Beau Tittensor scored on a passed ball for an early 1-0 RHS edge.
The Purple and Silver answered in the bottom of the second with a two-out rally. Kenny Semenko and Hunter Fralick each took a walk before Gehrig Parks singled to load the bases. Matt Mannens then stepped to the dish and delivered a shot back up the middle to plate a pair for the Cougs’ first lead of the game. However, the lead would be the last of the game for Spanish Springs as Reed soon found it offense.
Stepping to the plate with their very next at-bats, the Raiders loaded the bases with no outs. A double down the left-field line from Tittensor kicked off the top of the third frame. That was followed by a single from AJ Silva. Then, Chuck Stroberg reached first base via a hit-by-pitch. A walk pushed home Tittensor for the tying run. The damage was just getting started.
With the sacks still full, Reed senior Troy O’Connor came through for the Raiders with a bases-clearing triple, putting the Blue and Gold in front 5-2. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Brett Chaney closed out the inning’s scoring and left the scoreboard reading 6-2.
Spanish Springs cut its deficit in half in the bottom of the fourth inning. With runners on the corners, Parks roped a triple of his own that brought the score to 6-4. A balk then gave Parks a free stroll home. That brought the Cougs to within one run of the Raiders. Still, that was the closest Reed would allow its counterparts to get.
Neither team generated offense over the next two innings, leaving the game a one-run affair heading into the final frame. Wanting to make sure not to leave Spanish Springs any chance at a comeback, the Raiders put three runs on the board in the top of the seventh.
Again loading the bases to start the inning with no outs, a pinch-hitting Casey Higgins singled to right field to plate Joey Dice. Tanner Paris then hit a sac fly for another Reed run before Tittensor ripped a two-bagger into right field to round out the scoring and give the Raiders a 9-5 advantage with three outs left to get the win.
The Cougars tried to mount a comeback rally but fell short. After Chadd Little sent Lucas Jones home with a single, Spanish Springs put runners on second and third. With the tying run at the plate and two outs, the Raiders induced a pop out to secure the victory.
“It’s kind of an odd circumstance when you’re playing on a really great field and a big time atmosphere like this,” Reed coach Ray Charles said. “That always changes it a little bit. Overall though, I was happy with the way we came out and our performance. We played pretty good and hit the ball pretty good. I was excited with what we did and we came out on top. It was a good game.
“We were aggressive and we did some good things. I thought we hit the ball really well today and hopefully we can just maintain that. I thought our pitching did a pretty good job. There were a few more walks than I like, but overall they did a good job to keep us in the game. Our bats are coming alive and I’d like to see us keep getting better and better.
Jake Means pitched four innings for the Raiders, striking out four while walking two and giving up five runs. Mark Nowaczewski came on in relief and pitched the final three innings with a pair of strikeouts to go with a walk and a hit batter, allowing one run.
Chase Kittilsen started on the mound for the Cougars, tossing five innings with three strikeouts, five walks, a hit batsman and six runs allowed. Little came on in relief, putting in two innings of work with a strikeout, a walk and two hit batters while being tagged for three runs.
“We are just still making some mistakes,” Hofmann said. “It’s more mental and communication mistakes than anything else. That cost us a couple of runs here and there. That’s been the difference this year. We made a couple communication mistakes defensively. We’re just not communicating enough and kind of forgetting some of the little things. That’s the game of baseball. It’s not about who’s the fastest and strongest and biggest that wins. It’s the team that communicates well and plays the best together that can be successful. We just didn’t do that today.”
Reed (14-10, 9-8 Northern 4A) and Spanish Springs (10-15, 4-11) will play again today at Reed with first pitch set for 11 a.m.
“The good thing is it’s baseball,” Hofman said. “It’s not football where we have to wait a week. We get to play tomorrow and we get to play them again. Hopefully, we can improve upon a couple of mistakes and get right back in it and give ourselves a chance.”