Spanish Springs picked up a 15-6 win over McQueen and an 8-7 triumph over Douglas Friday in the season-opening Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament. Both games were at SSHS.
"I'm very, very pleased," Cougars coach Ben Hofmann said. "I thought we swung the bats pretty well on the day. We scored 23 runs. You like your chances when you score 23 runs in two games. You hope your pitching can hold up and it did. We didn't pitch great but we pitched with leads and pitched in situations pretty well. Overall, we did a good job."
In its first game Friday, Spanish Springs got off to a 9-0 lead after two innings and cruised to the 15-6 six-inning non-league home win over McQueen.
The visiting Lancers barely knew what hit them. The Spanish Springs offense came up in the bottom of the first inning and saw Tim Epker and Tanner Oates draw walks. Jake Bray then cleaned off the bases with a three-run round tripper.
The walks were a painful theme for McQueen pitching. In the bottom of the second, Shane Lawson, Epker and Matt Mannens were issued free passes to saturate the sacks. Another walk, this time to Bray, forced in Lawson and extended the SSHS edge to 4-0. The margin quickly became 8-0 after Cougars cleanup hitter Chase Kittilsen stepped in next and mashed a grand slam.
The Spanish Springs offense did not let up. It tacked on two more runs in the third when Garek Tauchen walked and Epker drilled a two-run dinger to center field.
Spanish Springs did not score in the fourth, but it mopped up with four more scores in the fifth. Mannens highlighted that rally with a solo homer.
McQueen got a single run in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth to account for the final nine-run margin.
Dallas Mellum picked up the pitching win for Spanish Springs. He worked four and two-thirds innings, scattering seven Lancers hits. All six MHS runs were charged to Mellum, who finished with four strikeouts and two walks.
In its second game of the day, Spanish Springs overcame a lot of early offense from Douglas to pull out the 8-7 victory. The visiting Tigers scored a pair of runs in the first and third innings and sandwiched those around a single score in the second.
That left Spanish Springs trailing 5-0 as it came up for its turn in the bottom of the third. Hofmann said he told his club at that point it had to answer in some fashion. It did more than that.
Epker and Oates blasted back-to-back solo homers to initiate a four-run SSHS rally. Bray followed with a walk and Kittilsen was hit by a pitch. Malcolm Anderson got down a sacrifice bunt and the Cougars tacked on two more runs after a Kendall Murphy groundout and Mannens double.
"We've got a couple guys swinging really well right now and that really helps," Hofmann said. "We hit seven home runs on the day and a handful of doubles. The guys are being aggressive at the plate and seeing the ball real well right now. It's good to see."
In the fourth, Kittilsen had a run-scoring single and Anderson an RBI fielder's choice as Spanish Springs went on top 6-5.
Douglas regained the lead, 7-6, with two runs in the top of the fifth, but Spanish Springs answered with its final two runs, which would prove to be game-winning scores. Epker had an RBI single and Oates an RBI triple.
Oates got the starting nod on the hill but was tagged with all seven Douglas runs. Epker came on in relief with nobody out in the fifth. He wound up getting the pitching victory by tossing two scoreless innings, striking out one and walking one.
Spanish Springs concludes the weekend tournament today with games against Truckee and Reed scheduled for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.