The league opener for both schools seemed like a home run derby and saw the two teams exchange haymakers. It was capped off by a furious seventh-inning rally from the Mustangs that was concluded by a grand slam, helping Damonte to a 12-11 road victory.
With the Cougars holding a 10-7 advantage and Damonte grasping to its last out, the Mustangs looked as though their last ditch efforts would not be enough. However, the fireworks were just starting. After a passed ball allowed Damonte’s Patrick Wolfe to score from third, cutting the deficit to 10-8, a single and back-to-back walks by pitcher Matthew Mannens loaded the sacks and set the stage for the dramatic comeback.
Swinging on the first pitch, Nate Nolan took the ball deep over the left-center field wall for a grand slam, catapulting the Mustangs ahead 12-10 and stealing the lead away from the Purple and Teal.
The Cougs attempted to deliver a knockout blow back to the visitors, but were unable to manage their own comeback. A sac fly from senior Shane Lawson scored sophomore Hunter Fralick in the bottom of the seventh, but with two down a foul pop out sealed the heart-breaking loss for Spanish Springs.
“I don’t know what happened,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “We had an 0-2 mistake on the mound, but they hit the ball when they had to. They put the pressure on us. We walked a couple guys and they swung it. The kid hit it to left-center field and it wasn’t because of the wind. That kid hit it well. He definitely earned that one. I don’t think that was a wind-cheapey at all.”
Following a slow start, the intensity of the game picked up in the top of the third when Damonte extended its 1-0 edge from the first inning with a five-run third, highlighted by a three-run shot over the left field fence by Kyle Bailey.
After giving up the five-spot, Spanish Springs shut down the Mustangs bats and countered with its own rally. Using a pair of two-run dingers in the bottom half of the third, the Cougars put together a set of five-run innings in the third and fourth, jumping on top 10-6. A bloop single in the top of the sixth from Matt Olson sent Nolan home, bringing the score 10-7 before the dramatics of the final inning.
“They were better today than we were,” Hofmann said. “There’s not a whole lot else to say. We didn’t throw real well. I thought we hit fairly well, we just couldn’t keep them from scoring.”
Cougars’ starting pitcher Chadd Little went four innings, giving up six runs (five earned). In relief, Anthony Tiscareno pitched two innings, giving up one run on four hits.
At the plate, Mannens went 3-for-4 including a two-run homer. Tiscareno also went 3-for-4, with a double and two RBI. Lawson hit 3-for-5, with a double and 3 RBI.
Spanish Springs (2-4, 0-1) will get a chance to seek revenge when it goes to Damonte on Thursday with first pitch set for 3:45 p.m.
Hofmann said he will have his team prepared for the rematch.
“We just practice and we get ready to go. They’ll have a different pitcher on the mound and we’ll have a different pitcher on the mound. It may be a completely different game. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a 2-1 game on the Thursday. It very well could be.”