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Cougars steal victory from Raiders
by Dan Eckles
Apr 28, 2012 | 922 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Nathan Orme - SSHS hitter Vinnie Agliolo rips a third-inning triple during the Cougars' 6-4 road win over Reed Saturday.
Tribune photo by Nathan Orme - SSHS hitter Vinnie Agliolo rips a third-inning triple during the Cougars' 6-4 road win over Reed Saturday.
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It’s hard to get 14 hits, out-hit your opponent by eight and only score four runs. In fact, it’s probably harder to get held to four runs when you collect 14 hits, than it would be to score more off that same hit total.

Unfortunately for the Reed Raiders, that’s the stunt they pulled off and it proved costly. Reed’s cross-town rival, Spanish Springs, managed just six hits in Saturday’s Northern 4A League battle between the two schools. However, that was just what the SSHS nine needed to capture a 6-4 victory in the finale of the two-game prep baseball series pitting the local schools.

“I told our guys, ‘you don’t get doubled up plus two in the hits category and win very many games,’” Spanish Spanish coach Ben Hofmann said. “We got some clutch strikeouts and a couple double plays. Those things helped us out.”

Reed took a 9-6 triumph Friday in Spanish Springs’ home game, which was played at Aces Ballpark in downtown Reno.

“We hit into two double plays and Spanish Springs just made plays,” Reed coach Ray Charles said following Saturday’s loss. “When you get 14 hits, usually good things happen. But also, we didn’t hit at the right times and in the right situations.”

Saturday at home, Reed had runners on the base paths all day, but only four of them managed to cross the plate as Spanish Springs’ pitching and defense time and again kept Reed from putting together a big rally.

The seventh inning proved pivotal. Leading 4-3, Spanish Springs tacked on a pair of insurance runs. With two outs, Spanish Springs put a pair of runners on base after Chase Kittilsen was hit by a pitch and Nikk Audenried singled. Gehrig Parks proceed to lace a single into center field that was misplayed. Kittilsen scored on the hit, but Audenried scored on the Raiders’ error after the ball was not fielded cleanly in the outfield.

That left Reed trailing 6-3 as it came up for its final offensive turn.

Despite the three-run cushion and only allowing three runs through six innings, Hofmann, pulled Audenried, his starting pitcher, from the mound and inserted junior right-hander Matt Mannens.

It immediately got hairy for Mannens.

Reed’s Connor Cox greeted Mannens with a leadoff single. Troy O’Connor followed and reached on an error. Mannens recorded an out when Brett Chaney popped out to right field, but Tanner Paris drew a walk and Reed had the bases loaded with the potential winning run at the plate and only one out.

RHS leadoff hitter Ryan Butler stepped in next. He grounded a bouncing ball down the third-base line. Cougars third baseman Vinnie Agliolo scooped it up and stepped on third to force out O’Connor. Cox scored on the play to make the scoreboard read 6-4. With two outs, Mannens got Beau Tittensor to fly out in left-center field, preserving the win for Spanish Springs.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to win a close game,” said Hofmann, who has seen his team lose 11 times in league play and 10 of those have come by three or fewer runs. “It feels good today. We did a lot of the little things that win you games.”

Spanish Springs scored first Saturday, posting a run in the top of the first inning. With one out, Hunter Fralick and Lucas Jones singled. The duo moved up on a groundout by Agliolo and Chadd Little got Fralick home with an RBI groundout.

Reed got two runs in the bottom of inning two to forge ahead 2-1. O’Connor doubled and scored. Paris singled and scored, accounting for the two runs.

That was Reed’s lone lead of the contest and it was short-lived. Spanish Springs responded with the biggest offensive inning either team would enjoy in the weekend affair, a three-run third.

Fralick reached on an error and Jones was hit by a pitch. Agliolo then blasted a two-run triple. He scored on =another RBI groundout by Little.

“Chadd Little went 0-for-3, but he had a couple RBIs,” Hofmann said. “That stuff may go unnoticed a lot of the time, but those were great team at-bats. He put the ball in play and scored the run. He did that two times and those two runs look pretty big right now.”

Reed trimmed the gap to 4-3 with a single score in the fourth, but could get no closer.

Audenried earned the victory on the hill for Spanish Springs. He was charged with three runs, all earned and scattered 13 hits while walking one and plunking one. He finished with eight strikeouts.

“Nikk was making high-stress pitches all day long,” Hofmann said. “He can do that sometimes because he is really mentally tough. He had a good slider and was able to throw his off-speed stuff in hitters’ counts, which negates them from looking fastball.

“He had a high pitch count, which is why I took him out in the seventh. We nearly had a fight because he wanted to go back out there,” the Cougars’ coach said sarcastically. “He’d throw 200 pitches and want to go back out. We’d have a scrimmage tomorrow and he’d be ready to throw.”

Spencer Jones took the loss for Reed despite going the distance. He allowed six runs on six hits but did walk two and he hit four Cougars with pitches. He did record eight strikeouts of his own.

“Spencer pitched good enough to win,” Charles said. “We didn’t help him out as much as we needed to, but he threw well.”

Spanish Springs (11-15, 5-11) has a busy week ahead. The Cougars play a two-game series against league title challenger McQueen Tuesday and Wednesday. It then wraps up its regular season with struggling Wooster Thursday and Friday. Spanish Springs, the defending Northern 4A champion, likely has to sweep all four of those games to earn a regional playoff bid and get a chance to defend its North crown.

Reed (14-11, 9-9) has just two games left, against Reno, which is also in the hunt for a league title. Reed and Reno will play Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’re going to attack Reno,” Charles said. “We are playing like we are fighting for a playoff spot. That’s our mentality.”
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