The Raiders knocked off the cross-town rival Cougars with a run in their final at-bat, securing a 4-3 home triumph.
“It was a big win but it was a great baseball game. Both teams played well. All three pitchers threw well,” Reed baseball coach John Phenix said.
Early on, only one batter for the Raiders (18-11, 13-8) could solve Spanish Springs pitcher Nikk Audenried, but it was good enough to give the hosts a 2-0 edge through three innings.
Tyler Starley led off the bottom of the first, driving a ball over the left-field fence for a solo homer.
With one out in the bottom of the third, Starley stepped to the plate and connected on the first pitch he saw. The ball had plenty of distance but the question would be whether it would stay fair. It snuck just inside the foul pole for his second home run of the game.
However, those would be the only hits by Reed in the first four innings, enabling Spanish Springs (22-8, 16-5) to mount a comeback.
Reed pitcher Thomas Sertic was cruising right along. Through three innings, the hard-throwing righty faced one more than the minimum and was protecting a 2-0 lead.
But a leadoff walk to Kenny Semenko to start the top of the fourth got Sertic into a little trouble.
A wild pitch allowed Semenko to get into scoring position.
With one out, Jeff McCusker singled up the middle. Semenko was going to stay at third but the ball was booted in center field, allowing him to score and McCusker to scamper to second.
Center fielder Joey Dice immediately made amends. Spanish Springs’ Jake Haley put a charge into a Sertic offering and the ball looked gone off the bat. However, Dice tracked the ball down and at full speed, caught it as he slammed into the fence, saving a run.
In the fifth, Sertic got in trouble again. This time, the Cougars would find a way to take the lead.
Chase Hauder sent a laser to the opposite field for a leadoff double. A bloop single by Gehrig Parks put runners on the corners with one out.
Matt Mannens scorched a line drive to right field, driving in the tying run. Then Semenko dropped down a squeeze bunt, and Parks slid head first across home plate for the go-ahead score.
It was Reed’s turn to play catch-up after falling behind 3-2 through four and a half innings.
The Raiders knotted the score at 3-3 after a Starley single moved pinch runner Jake Lehmann up to third and a sacrifice fly to center field by Casey Higgins brought him home.
When Reed didn’t have to rely on Starley to produce the offense, it reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth.
Brandon Koszuth sliced a one-out double to the fence in left field, starting the rally. An infield hit to deep shortstop by Dylan Miller left runners on first and second for Brett Chaney, who ripped an RBI double down the right-field line. Pinch runner Austin May rumbled all the way home from second for what proved to be the eventual game-winning run.
Chris Flores pitched the final two innings for the Blue and Gold, earning the win with a scoreless relief appearance.
“Chris has been a real pleasure to coach this year. He’s been a real team guy,” Phenix said. “He’s capable on the mound and the past couple weeks, he’s stepped up swinging the bats for us.”
Sertic went five innings, but did not factor in the decision. He gave up two earned runs on five hits, walking two and striking out four.
Starley led all hitters with a 3-for-3, two-RBI outing.
Audenried suffered the hard-luck loss, despite going the distance. He struck out eight, walked two and gave up four runs on six hits.
“It’s not as good as we’ve been. It happens,” SSHS baseball coach Ben Hofmann said. “I thought he (Audenried) threw well. Credit their guys. They put a couple good swings on baseballs.”
The two teams conclude their series today at Spanish Springs.