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Homers propel Cougars to baseball win over Tigers
by Dan Eckles
Apr 09, 2011 | 953 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Spanish Springs Cougars must like playing close baseball games. It’s a good thing because they’re in a lot of them. The good news for the SSHS crew is it seems to win a lot more than it loses.

Spanish Springs got a pair of solo home runs from seniors Jake Bray and Tanner Oates to help the local club capture a 4-3 home win over Douglas in Northern 4A prep baseball action Saturday.

Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the fifth, Bray stepped into the batter’s box and bashed a ball over the left-field fence to knot the conference clash at 3-3. After a Garek Tauchen groundout, Oates strode to the plate and sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right field for another Cougars solo dinger. It was the go-ahead run and proved to be the game-winner.

“I was behind in the count so I was expecting something off-speed,” Oates said. “He threw me a fastball right down the plate. I said, ‘Hey I’ll take that.’”

A two-game series against Douglas appears to be just what Spanish Springs nine needed. The Cougars opened their season with 12 consecutive wins, but had lost three straight before hooking up with Douglas. Spanish Springs picked up a 5-0 win at Douglas Thursday in the first game of the two-game series before capping the sweep Saturday.

The Cougars now sit 14-3 overall and 9-3 in league tilts.

“A win today was key, especially going into spring break,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “We go into spring break and we have (league) bye after that. We don’t play a league game for two weeks. So, having this win through spring break is a lot better than a loss.”

Douglas played with the lead on numerous occasions. The Minden school pushed across a run in the top of the first only to see Spanish Springs answer with two in the bottom of the first. That SSHS rally started when Bray drew a leadoff walk. Matt Mannens followed with a bunt single. A single by Oates plated Bray. Mannens scored when Kendall Murphy grounded into a double play on a hit-and-run play.

Down 2-1 after three, Douglas regained the lead in the top of the fourth. Tanner Egan laced a leadoff single and circled the sacks when Shane Fencl mashed a two-run homer after a groundout.

That set the stage for the Spanish Springs comeback in the bottom of the fifth.

“I liked the way we played the baseball game today,” Hofmann said. “We got good starting pitching, played pretty good defense and got timely hits. That was the difference today. They had some opportunities where they didn’t get those key hits and we were able to.”

Spanish Springs starting pitcher Malcolm Anderson worked five 1-3 innings to pick up the win. He scattered six hits while striking out two and walking two. Only two of the three Douglas runs were earned. The senior right-hander improved to 3-0 on the spring season.

“I located my curveball a lot better than normal and that really helped,” Anderson said. “I also kept my head in it and didn’t let my emotions get the best of me. I kind of did that against Reno (last week). When you pitch, you can’t let hits and walks bother you. You have to focus on the next pitch.”

Bray took over for Anderson with one out in the top of the sixth. Douglas had a pair of runners on but Bray nixed the threat. He threw two pitches and induced an inning-ending double play. The hard-throwing senior righty then turned in a perfect seventh for a save.

Spanish Springs will host its second annual Athletics Unlimited Spring Break Tournament Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Cougars open the tourney with a 10 a.m. game Thursday against Novato, Calif. of suburban Sacramento.
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