A scheduled bye following spring break could have left the Cougars a little rusty, but the Purple and Silver gave Bishop Manogue a good game Saturday and the Miners needed a rally in their final at-bat to secure a 5-4 Northern 4A league win.
“We’ve had a lot of these this year. There’s been a lot of tough ones,” SSHS baseball coach Ben Hofmann said.
Spanish Springs only managed one run off Manogue starting pitcher Austin Burkett in five innings, but once the Miners went to the bullpen, it was a whole new ballgame.
After giving up one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking three, Burkett gave way to reliever Kyle Pruneau to start the sixth. Matt Mannens welcomed Pruneau to the mound with a solo shot over the left-field wall, closing the gap to 3-2.
Then it was all about the hit and run.
Chase Kittilsen followed Mannens with a walk. After Pruneau recorded the first out of the inning, Kittilsen went first to third on Chadd Little’s hit-and-run single to shallow center field.
Then, Nikk Audenried did the same thing, dropping in a bloop single into right field that drove in the tying run and advanced pinch runner Shanon Kelly to third from first.
Semenko showed off his bat control, laying down a perfect drag bunt up the first-base line to bring in the go-ahead run with the squeeze play.
However, the 4-3 lead for the visitors didn’t last long.
In the bottom of the sixth, Manogue’s Kyle Lewis hit a ground ball through the left side of the infield for a base hit with one out. Pruneau followed with a walk and a wild pitch allowed Lewis to get to third.
A tough hop on a grounder to second base prevented a chance for the Cougars from turning an inning-ending double play. Instead, Lewis scored on Louis Damonte’s RBI groundout. Manogue regained the lead, 5-4, thanks to James Sandoval’s two-out base knock to shallow center.
Pruneau picked up the pitching win, despite giving up three of Spanish Springs’ four runs. Connor Thompson pitched the seventh to earn the save, but made it interesting by letting runners get on first and second with one out.
Manogue got on the board first in the bottom of the second thanks to a little help from the Cougars. Lewis drew a one-out walk. He swiped second standing up after getting a big jump off Spanish Springs pitcher Audenried.
Damonte delivered a two-out single through the right side of the infield, but Lewis could only take a turn around third and watch as the throw from right field reached the plate. It mattered little. Audenried immediately balked home the game’s first run and the Miners led 1-0 after two innings of action.
Manogue added to its lead in the third on a two-out double down the right-field line by Devonte German, driving in Logan Howard from third. Howard led off the inning from the nine spot and singled to right field. A sacrifice bunt got him to second and he advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Spanish Springs cut the deficit in half with its second hit of the game in the top of the fourth frame.
With one out, Mannens drew his second base on balls of the game. He stole second to get into scoring position and with two outs, Vinnie Agliolo hit a frozen rope to right field. German took two steps forward in right and then realized he should have stayed put as the line drive got up on him in a hurry and sailed just over his head. Mannens scored easily on the Agliolo triple.
The Cougars threatened to break the game open in the fifth. After back-to-back singles by Audenried and Semenko put runners on the corners with no outs, Audenried attempted to score on a wild pitch. However, he got a bad jump and was easily tagged out at the plate. Consecutive strikeouts by Burkett averted any damage.
Manogue created a little more breathing room with a run in the bottom of the fifth.
Howard ripped a grounder over third base for a one-out double. A missed pickoff throw at second allowed him to scamper to third. With two outs, MJ Farthing hit a laser past Audenried, plating Howard with a single and increasing the home team’s edge to 3-1.
Audenried went the distance for the Cougs. Manogue tagged him for five runs on seven hits. Audenried finished with nine strikeouts and two walks in the tough-luck loss. Audenried did his best to help his cause at the plate, going 2-for-3.
Howard was the lone Miner with more than one hit. He also went 2-for-3 and scored two runs from the bottom of the order.
Spanish Springs’ (10-13, 4-9 in Northern 4A) nine league losses have all come by three runs or less.
“For the most part today, I thought the guys had good approaches,” Hofmann said. “We were able to do some things. But at the end of the day, it just was not quite enough, which is kind of what we’ve been going through this year … I didn’t feel like we were rusty. Nikk threw a heck of a game. I thought we played pretty well defensively behind him. At the plate, I didn’t see guys being that rusty. They had pretty good swings.”