“This was big,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “That’s a really good ball club over there. They’re well coached and they’re just solid. We were fortunate to come out with two wins today.”
Following a victory in the first contest in which Spanish Springs (19-7, 12-4) used its bats to grab the win, it was the Cougar defense that was showcased in Game 2.
In the bottom of the second inning, SSHS took a lead it would not relinquish.
Jeff McCusker led off with a single into left field before working his way to third on a pair of passed balls. Back-to-back walks were then issued to Hunter Pinto and Jake Haley, putting the Cougars in prime position with the bases loaded and no outs. Consecutive strikeouts put Douglas on the brink of escaping the jam unscathed, but Gehrig Parks smacked a singled into left field to plate McCusker and Pinto.
From there, the Cougars made the 2-0 advantage stand as starting pitcher Garrett Covington and the SSHS defense went to work.
In the top half of the third frame, the Tigers looked poised to answer back. A leadoff single by Teddy Mason was followed by a sacrifice bunt that left Douglas with a runner in scoring position. A single off the bat of Chase White into left field then appeared as though it would be enough for Douglas to get on the scoreboard, but Spanish Springs cut Mason down at the plate to keep the score intact.
The Tigers finally managed to scratch a run on the board the next inning, but it proved to be their only offensive production of Game 2.
Douglas came close to tying the contest in the sixth inning, but came up short as the Purple and Silver defense yet again came away without a scratch.
After a Dusty Fisher single and walk to Nolan Weintz got things going for the Tigers, a fielder’s choice put runners on second and third with two outs. An intentional walk followed, but the inning ended with a whimper for Douglas as the next batter grounded out.
Covington earned the win, tossing 5 1-3 innings while giving up one run. He allowed six hits and two walks while striking out five. The ‘W’ went to Gehrig Parks in Game 1 as he threw six innings with three earned runs. Parks gave up six hits and three walks while striking out four. Nikk Audenried closed out both games, combining for 2 2-3 innings of work with no hits or runs, three walks and two strikeouts.
“Our pitching was really good today,” Hofmann said. “In the first game ‘Rig was outstanding. He had a great changeup through the middle innings and went through the heart of the order a couple of times. He was just really solid.
“In the second game, Covington just did what he does. He made them work for every little thing. He just doesn’t beat himself. Then Nikk comes right out in both games and throws strikes. Our pitching today was just really solid, all the way around.”
Although Spanish Springs had just five hits in the back end of the twin bill, the Cougar bats were much more alive in Game 1 as they posted five runs with their first turn at the dish.
Matt Mannens and Kenny Semenko led the bottom of the first off with back-to-back singles. Lucas Jones then traded places with Mannens as he ripped a double into the right-center gap for the first run of the day.
Pinto was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases. McCusker then hit a hard grounder to the left side of the infield where an error plated Semenko and Jones and left runners on the corners. Chase Hauder then brought Pinto home with a groundout, followed by RBI single by Parks to leave the Cougars on top 5-0.
“We were able to hit and take advantage of a couple of mistakes they had,” Hofmann said. “We just kind of used that opportunity. I just thought we did a pretty good job today of just putting the ball in play. We were able to build a big lead and hold on.”
Spanish Springs increased the edge to 6-0 in the second on an RBI single from Semenko that plated Shannon Kelly. Douglas tried to rally back with three runs in the fourth, but the Cougs responded with a run in both the bottom half of the fourth and fifth innings.
Semenko led the SSHS effort at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBI. Mannens was 2-for-3 with two runs scored while Jones went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
Spanish Springs will now face McQueen at Aces Ballpark Tuesday. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.