Turning in its second straight sub-par performance, the Cougars baseball squad will have to watch the rest of the postseason from the stands after suffering a 9-3 defeat at the hands of Galena Thursday.
“Our guys gave everything they had. It wasn’t an effort issue. We just didn’t execute when we wanted,” SSHS baseball coach Ben Hofmann said. “The kids battled everyday. They worked hard. I loved the energy, loved the effort. This week, we just didn’t execute the way we have done all year. It came back to bite us a little bit.”
Hofmann hoped his team would avoid a slow start, but the Cougars dug themselves a hole.
In the top of the first, Galena pitcher Wyatt Nebe helped his cause, ripping a one-out double off SSHS starting pitcher Garrett Covington. He eventually scored on an RBI fielder’s choice by Eric Anderson for an initial 1-0 Grizzlies lead.
In the second, Nebe helped his cause even more.
Galena got singles from Chaz Clark, Brock Raggio, Michael Jones and Nebe. Jones drove in a run with his base hit and Nebe plated a pair, increasing Galena’s advantage to 4-0. The Grizzlies left the bases loaded.
Spanish Springs began to battle back in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of a couple fielding miscues at shortstop.
Following a Kenny Semenko single, Lucas Jones reached on an error. The two runners scored on the second error with two outs, cutting the deficit in half, 4-2.
Spanish Springs senior Matt Mannens pitched two innings of hitless relief before the Grizzlies got to him in the top of the sixth.
A walk, following singles by Alex Smagala and Nebe, loaded the bases with two outs.
Galena went up 5-2 on a wild pitch. Then, Cole Fenner hit a roller up the middle that found the outfield grass for a two-run single, pushing the margin to five, 7-2.
Ben Barnard hit a rocket off Mannens foot for an infield single and knocked Mannens out of the game.
Lucas Jones came on in relief in hopes of stranding the bases loaded. He induced a grounder to deep shortstop, but Covington could not get the ball cleanly out of his glove and everyone was safe, making it an 8-2 ballgame.
The Cougars got a run back in the bottom of the sixth when Nebe appeared to hit his wall. Nebe gave up two hits and two walks in the sixth, forcing in a run with a bases-loaded walk.
Still, he came back out in the seventh and finished off his complete game. He scattered five hits and allowed three runs -- one earned -- while walking two and striking out eight.
Fenner’s RBI single in the top of the seventh accounted for the final Galena run of the game.
Nebe led the way at the plate also, going 3-for-5 with two RBI. Fenner, Clark, Raggio and Smagala all chipped in with two hits. Fenner drove in three runs.
Spanish Springs finishes with a 23-11 record overall.
“Right now it’s hard to see. In a week or two, I think I’m going to look back and see some positive things,” Hofmann said. “All these guys I really enjoyed coaching. It’s going to be weird going home tonight and not putting together a practice plan for tomorrow. That part is always hard at the end.”