After finding out its head coach Ray Charles had been suspended by the Washoe County School District, and therefore would no longer be coaching for the remainder of the season, Reed came out flat against Reno and lost a mercy-rule shortened 10-0 contest on Senior Day.
Reed athletic director Ron Coombs said he could not comment on Charles’ suspension, Reed assistant coach John Phenix, who took over in Charles’ absence, said the news may have impacted the team’s play.
“The news could have had something to do with how they came out,” Phenix said. “That’s some tough news to digest. Yesterday they were flat and we talked about avoiding that. I think it was a combination of things. Reno scored three in the fourth and we kind of backed down a little bit. We struck out once but we just hit the ball in the air and these guys are probably the best fielding team in our league. They do an excellent job.
“Plus, they get 15 hits and a lot of them were with two outs. With runners in scoring position they always execute. We just got beat by a better team today.”
The Huskies rattled hits all over the field against Reed. Reno took the lead in the first inning with an RBI double off the bat of senior R.J. Bush and then added another run in the second inning when junior Garrett Hampson scored on a fielder’s choice to give the visitors a 2-0 edge.
Reno’s advantage stayed at two until the fourth inning when Reno plated another trio of runs with a two-out rally. Sophomore Jeremy Peterson sparked the Huskies’ rally with a solo home run that bounced off the top of the right-field fence and fell beyond the field of play. A Reed error then kept the inning alive for Reno before back-to-back singles loaded the bases.
Senior Grant Kukuk made sure to take advantage of the full sacks, roping a single into right field to plate a pair of Huskies for a 5-0 Reno lead.
The Huskies’ bats stayed hot in the top of the fifth frame as they doubled their advantage.
Reno junior Graham MacMillan led off the inning with a double and then touched home on an RBI single by senior Kellen Richards. After Richards was cut down trying to advance to third, a pair of singles left runners on the corners for the Huskies. A squeeze play from senior Tyler McElroy followed, scoring junior Kevin Wallace. Hampson doubled next, plating pinch runner Chad Savage for an 8-0 lead. A passed ball allowed McElroy to touch home before Hampson tallied the Huskies’ tenth run on a double from Kukuk, inducing the mercy rule.
While the Huskies flourished at the dish, Reed (14-13, 9-11 Northern 4A) couldn’t catch a break offensively.
In the first four innings, the Raiders only managed to reach base with a hit batsman, a single, an error and a walk, putting a runner in scoring position just once. The lone hit, from senior Troy O’Connor, proved to be the only hit of the day for the Blue and Gold. On the other side of the plate, Reno racked up 15 hits.
Closing out the regular season on a three-game losing streak, while also losing their head coach might worry the Raiders’ faithful heading into a possible playoff berth, but Phenix remained optimistic.
“They need to forget about a lot of things so we’re going to take a couple of days off and then go back to work, that way we’ll know exactly what the scenario is for us if we’re in,” Phenix said.
“I told them if we make it, it’s a different season. It’s a completely different season and this is a group of kids that can put together quite a season in a short period of time so I have no worries about going in. We’ll put it on their shoulders and let them have fun with it.”