The Cougars (12-15, 6-11), the defending Northern 4A champions, need the wins if they are to have any chance of defending their regional title when the postseason begins next week. The Northern 4A’s top eight teams advance into the regional playoffs, but Spanish Springs is still on the outside looking in, chasing Reed, Galena, Damonte and Douglas for the last remaining seeds.
“We have to have these,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “We might as well be in the playoffs right now. They’re all absolutely important. Every start, every at-bat is important from here on out.”
Wooster took a 2-0 lead with a pair of second-inning runs on Tuesday. However, the early deficit did not faze Spanish Springs. The visitors answered with a run in the third, trimming the gap to 2-1. Gehrig Parks singled, moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored when Shannon Kelly reached on an error.
Spanish Springs took the lead for good when it cashed in for four runs in the top of inning five. Matt Mannens was hit by a pitch. After a passed ball, he scored on a Hunter Fralick single. Lucas Jones walked and Vinnie Agliolo plated Fralick on a run-scoring single. Soon after, Chadd Little hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Jones. Next, Chase Kittilsen was hit by a pitch and then Parks hit into a fielder’s choice to score the fourth and final run of the frame in the form of Agliolo.
Wooster scored in the bottom of the fifth to get within two runs at 5-3. That’s as good as it got for the hosts. Spanish Springs proceeded to tack on insurance runs with single scores in the sixth and seventh.
In the sixth, Mannens tripled with one out and scored when Fralick got down a suicide sacrifice squeeze bunt. Agliolo bashed a solo dinger for the seventh-inning run.
Agliolo had a solid day for the SSHS crew. In addition to the round tripper, he had three of the Cougars’ six hits on the day — in four plate appearances. He also turned in a scoreless seventh inning of relief work on the hill, retiring the Colts in order with a pair of strikeouts.
Parks worked the first six innings on the mound for Spanish Springs, en route to earning the pitching victory. The sophomore left-hander gave up the three Colts runs but only two were earned. He scattered seven hits in a four-strikeout, no-walk performance.
“Gehrig just mixed in his off-speed stuff well and obviously he didn’t walk anybody so that was big,” Hofmann said. “He didn’t walk guys to get to their big thumpers and they’ve got a couple guys that can really swing it, but the key was to get the guys at the bottom and the top of their order out. Gehrig was around the strike zone all day and did a really good job.”
Spanish Springs and Wooster meet again today at 3:45 at SSHS.