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Spanish Springs outlasts Reed in final of spring break baseball tourney
by Aaron Retherford
Apr 16, 2011 | 1108 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Spanish Springs wasn’t supposed to be in the championship game of the Athletics Unlimited spring break baseball tournament but it made the most of the opportunity Saturday.

The Cougars followed up their 8-7 come-from-behind win over Drake of San Anselmo, Calif. in the third-place game with a 7-6 victory over cross-town rival Reed in the tourney’s title tilt.

Carson earned the right to play in the championship, but attended the funeral of two Carson High students instead, so Spanish Springs took the Senators’ place.

“Our goal was to come out today and win two, regardless of what the situation was,” SSHS baseball coach Ben Hofmann said.

Spanish Springs posted a six spot on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning versus Reed and never trailed in the championship game.

The rally started after Chase Kittilsen was hit by a pitch. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second and a balk to third. He scored on Tim Epker’s sacrifice fly to right field. That was the second out of the inning and Spanish Springs only led 1-0. But that’s when the two-out floodgates opened.

Matt Mannens doubled to shallow right field when a dive attempt by Troy O’Connor came up short. Shane Lawson walked on four pitches, putting runners on first and second.

Another flyball to the shallow outfield ended in a double. This time, Jake Bray dropped in a run-scoring two-bagger.

Garek Tauchen followed that with a two-run single up the middle. RBI singles by Kendall Murphy and Kittilsen ended the long inning with the Cougars on top 6-0.

However, Reed posted its own crooked number in response.

Three straight singles by Brandon Autino, O’Connor and Beau Tittensor led to the Raiders’ first run. With two runners on, junior leadoff hitter Ryan Butler put a charge into a pitch, sending a laser over the left-field fence, cutting the deficit to 6-4.

“We battled and came up one run short,” Reed baseball coach Ray Charles said. “We just have to try to keep getting better. I really like how we fought. We gave up that big second inning, but we didn’t give up. That’s a tribute to our team.”

The Cougars added what proved to be the eventual winning run in the bottom half of the third when Lawson doubled home Epker, who had singled.

The Raiders had a chance to score in the fourth frame but stranded the bases loaded. In the fifth, Reed’s rally was stymied with an inning-ending double play.

The Blue and Gold pushed across two runs in the top of the sixth thanks to a wild pitch and a sac fly by Alex Young, but again Spanish Springs turned a double play to get out of the jam with the lead. Tanner Oates pitched the seventh to pick up the save for Malcolm Anderson, who started the game and went 5 1-3 innings.

“In the first game, I would have liked to have gotten a little more offense. The kid that they threw was different. That was maybe good for us to see something that was a little bit different,” Hofmann said. “The second game, we talk about just wanting to add runs. We get a big inning and have them on the ropes, so let’s add. That was not something we were able to do. But we were able to play defense very well.”

Butler and Tittensor were both 3-for-3 for Reed and Tanner Parris also had three hits in the losing cause. Tauchen paced the Cougars’ offense with three hits, while Oates added two.

Reed (8-13) is back in action Tuesday when Carson comes to town for a league matchup. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“The tournament gave us some confidence. Hopefully we can take that into our next opponent and keep battling to get better,” Charles said.

Spanish Springs (18-4) is off until Saturday when it challenges Bishop Manogue.

In the early game Saturday, the Cougars erased a 6-1 deficit to stun the Pirates of Drake High School, 8-7.

Drake opened the scoring with a five-run fourth inning.

Spanish Springs cut into the gap on a Kittilsen solo shot in the bottom of the fourth, only to see Drake answer with a run in the fifth.

That’s when it started getting good for the home team, which finally started timing Drake’s pitcher. In the bottom of the fifth, Tauchen made it a 6-4 game when he waited on a slow pitch and took it opposite field for a three-run homer over the right-field fence.

Drake increased its lead to 7-4 in the top of the sixth, but the Pirates could not keep the Cougars at bay.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Epker’s RBI double to right-center field closed the gap to 7-5.

Brycen O’Gorman’s double to left-center plated another run. With two runners on, Matt Mannens hit a grounder to short, but the throw to first couldn’t be picked out of the dirt, allowing the game-tying and go-ahead runs to score on the error, which would have been the final out of the inning.
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