Damonte Ranch ripped off seven runs in the top of the first inning and was never threatened. The first five Mustangs to stride to the plate reached. Brandon Frankel, Ray Daniels and Anthony Rosa all laced singles to start the DRHS rally. Mustangs cleanup hitter Cody Stevens drew a walk and the visitors had a 1-0 lead.
Damonte’s Taylor Bates then provided the biggest hit of the contest, a grand slam that gave the Mustangs a quick 5-0 lead. They tacked on two more runs thanks to five walks from Spanish Springs starting pitcher Alex Vetter.
Vetter, who pitched well in relief last Saturday against perennial North power Reno, was anything but effective Tuesday. He lasted just two thirds of an inning and was tagged for the seven Damonte runs, all earned. In facing just 12 batters, he gave up four hits and walked six.
“Our inability to throw strikes hurt us. Then they had a couple bloops and a couple blasts,” SSHS assistant coach Ben Hofmann said. “At this level, when you give a team extra outs or free bases, nine out of 10 times they will make you pay for it.”
Damonte Ranch upped its edge to 8-0 with a single run in the top of the fourth frame. Kevin Schulewitch rapped out a run-scoring single to account for the score.
Spanish Springs tried to stay in contention. The Cougars cut the Mustangs’ lead in half with their only four runs, all in the bottom of inning four. Justin Agliolo walked to initiate the Cougars’ big inning. He circled the sacks when Tanner Oates followed with a two-run dinger. Later in the inning, Adam Miller and Taylor Freshman walked. Both scored after singles by Garrett Moore, Anthony Vierra and Brandon Mathis.
Unfortunately for Spanish Springs fans, that’s all the offense their beloved Purple and Teal could manage. Outside of that fourth inning, the Cougars posted just two hits.
“We’re just, as a rule, not hitting the ball well. As a team, we’re not swinging it well. We are not patient and we’ve had some bad approaches,” Hofmann said. “We are rolling over on first pitch curveballs. We are swinging for the fences on 0-2 counts when we should just be looking to put the ball in play. We swing at bad pitches and miss the ones we’re supposed to hit.”
Oates and Vierra both had two hits in three trips to the plate Tuesday
The fifth spot in the order was crucial for Damonte Ranch. Bates had the grand slam in the first inning. Schulewitch came in to that slot in the third and laced his RBI single in the fourth. He then bashed a two-run homer for the Mustangs’ final two runs in the sixth inning.
If there was a bright spot for the Cougars beyond their fourth-inning outburst, it was the relief pitching effort of Tyler Eaton. He got the final out of the first inning against the only batter he faced in the inning. He then pitched two perfect innings before being pulled after the third. Eaton is likely to start a game in the Cougars’ three-game league series against Wooster this coming weekend.
“We’ll just keep swinging it and hopefully we’ll get better,” Hofmann said. “For whatever reason, I guess we’re a little behind. We’ve pitched fairly well other than an inning here and there. And we’ve played fair defense. We’re just finding ways to lose when we should be finding ways to win.”