"Our goal was to put the ball in play," Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. "The last couple of games we haven't done a good job of that. We've struck out too much and popped up. It was cold. I thought it would be hard for both teams to play defense consistently. So our goal was to hit the ball hard and down. It worked out for us."
The two teams traded zeros through the first three innings. In the top fourth, the Douglas defense made its first snafu that helped out the SSHS offense. With two outs, Kendall Murphy posted the first Spanish Springs hit of the day, a single to shallow left field. Chase Kittilsen followed with a double that put Cougars on second and third. Both scored when Malcolm Anderson reached on a Tigers throwing error.
Already on top 2-0 after four innings, Spanish Springs tacked on two more runs in the fifth, one of them unearned. Matt Mannens rapped out a leadoff single and stole second base. He scored the only earned run of the contest for Spanish Springs when he raced home on a Jake Bray double. Tanner Oates stepped up next and reached safely when he singled and then Douglas had an errant throw that allowed Bray to score.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Douglas got its leadoff runner on for the first and only time in the conference clash. It mattered little. He was stranded as the Tigers failed to advance a baserunner past second base in the entire game.
Spanish Springs left-hander Dallas Mellum turned in a pitching gem. He finished with a two-hit shutout and eight strikeouts and four walks.
"He had really good command of his off-speed stuff and he hit his spots. For the most part he was your typical lefty. He stayed away and picked on the outside corner. He had a good change-up and good curveball. Then he mixed in a decent fastball and kept their guys off balance."
The Cougars did push across an extra insurance run in the top of inning seven, again unearned. Mannens was issued a free pass to start the frame. He circled the sacks after stealing second and cruising to third on an errant pickoff attempt. Mannens scored on a sacrifice suicide squeeze bunt by Garek Tauchen.
Spanish Springs players and coaches had to be happy to get back on the winning track. The Cougars opened the season with 12 consecutive wins, but followed those up with three straight losses. The SSHS nine had not won in nine days.
"It felt good to get out of there with win," Hofmann said. "Douglas is a good team and Dallas was outstanding today. He's the main reason we won that game and we played outstanding defensively."
The Cougars conclude their two-game league series against Douglas with a home game against the Tigers Saturday at 11 a.m.