The win was the Cougars eighth in their final at-bat this spring. The contest was a make-up game, originally scheduled for Saturday.
Trailing 8-6 as it came up for its turn in the bottom of the seventh, the Cougars’ offense went right to work. Tanner Oates initiated the Spanish Springs threat with a leadoff single. After a Manogue pitching change, Kendall Murphy singled. Chase Kittilsen followed and drew a walk to saturate the sacks with Cougars.
Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann called on Troy Weller and Cade Rogers to pinch run for Murphy and Kittilsen respectively. The extra speed quickly paid off. Manogue got a strikeout to record the first out of the inning, but that’s all it would get. Cougars catcher Kyle Clark hit a seeing-eye single back up the middle, just beyond the reach of three Miners infielders.
The slow bouncing knock allowed Oates and Weller to score. The Miners tried to nail Clark, who was looking to get to second after a throw went to the plate. Unfortunately for Manogue, its throw to second was just off target. The ball squirted away from second base and Rogers, who was alertly watching the action, raced home for the winning run.
“Manogue is a good team,” Hofmann said. “Anytime you beat them, especially when you do it at the end, it’s a good win.
“We came together before the bottom of the seventh and said ‘look we just need a lead-off hitter to get on.’ We got that and then it gets contagious. All of a sudden, the bases are loaded with nobody out and I’m thinking ‘here we go again.’”
Spanish Springs had trailed 8-3 as it got ready for the bottom of the fifth. The Cougars trimmed the Miners’ lead to 8-6 with a trio of scores that set the stage for the late-game comeback. Garek Tauchen singled to started the fifth. After a Kendall Murphy double, Kittelson bashed a three-run homer.
Manogue used the long ball to do the bulk of its offensive damage. The Miners hit four home runs in the conference clash. The private Catholic school was clinging to a 4-3 edge before it put up four runs in the top of the fourth.
Sean Deweese mashed a three-run homer and Sean-Luke Brija crushed a solo dinger to account for Manogue’s big inning.
Manogue tied the game at 1-1 when Kyle Pruneau hit a solo home run in the second. Niles Lujan keyed a three-run Miners third inning with a two-run round tripper.
Spanish Springs grabbed an early 1-0 advantage thanks to a Kittilsen RBI single in the first. The Sparks school extended its edge to 3-1 with two runs in the second. Jake Bray and Oates laced run-scoring singles in the second.
Chadd Little picked up the pitching win for Spanish Springs. He took to the hill to start the fifth inning, when Cougars faced an 8-3 deficit. Little proceeded to hold the Manogue bats at bay. He finished with three scoreless innings, allowing three hits while striking out two and walking two.
“Chadd has been nails all year long,” Hofmann said. “I’ve been very impressed with the way he’s handled himself all season. He’s had a really good off-speed pitch and a really good fastball. He has been able to throw the of-speed pitch for strikes. He’s just had good commend and kept everyone off balance.”
Spanish Springs (19-4, 10-3) and Manogue meet again today when they conclude their two-game league series. The Northern 4A powers play at Manogue with the first pitch slated for 3:45 p.m.