Taking part in the Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament, the Purple and Silver managed to fend off a late rally by Division I-A Truckee to grab a 3-2 win.
In the season opener, Spanish Springs handed the ball to Nikk Audenried and the senior pitcher paved the way to a Cougars’ victory with five impressive innings on the mound. Audenried finished with four strikeouts and no runs on just two hits allowed over the five frames to earn the win.
“He did a real good job of mixing up his off-speed stuff and his fastball,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “That’s what he does. He has a good fastball, a good slider, a good change and he is going to be around the plate. He was using all three today and was real successful doing that. He kept them off balance.”
While Audenried went to work from the bump, the Cougars got their bats going in the first inning.
After its first two batters were retired, Spanish Springs got a two-out rally started with a single from Lucas Jones. Jeff McCusker then joined Jones on the base paths with a base knock, setting up designated hitter Anthony Tiscareno for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead.
With McCusker on third base and Tiscareno at first, Tiscareno took off early to steal second and got caught in a rundown. While Tiscareno avoided a tag, McCusker bolted for home and scored to give SSHS a 2-0 advantage before Tiscareno recorded the final out.
After leaving the bases loaded in the second inning, Spanish Springs (1-0) got back on the scoreboard in the third inning.
Once again, Jones sparked the Cougars, this time sending a frozen rope to the right field wall for a leadoff triple on his 2-for-3 day at the plate. A sacrifice fly from McCusker then brought Jones homes for a 3-0 SSHS lead.
Holding onto the three-run cushion, Audenried was relieved by Alex Moreno in the sixth inning.
Moreno gave up a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced, but afterward settled in. Spanish Springs catcher Kenny Semenko gave Moreno a little help, cutting down the runner as he attempted to steal second base. Moreno then induced a pair of fly outs with a double in between to get out of the inning.
Jones came into the contest in the top of the seventh for the save, but not without a little drama.
Truckee’s Erik Holmer led the seventh off with a walk followed by single by Thor Retzlaff on a hit-and-run that left runners on the corners. The Wolverines’ Bradley Van Schoon Hoven then plated the first run for Truckee with a single into right field.
An error on a sacrifice bunt then loaded the bases for THS with all three outs to work with. Jones gave the Cougars some breathing room with strikeout before a fielder’s choice left SSHS holding a 3-2 lead and one out away from victory. With runners at the corners, a pop out to Cougar second baseman Garrett Covington sealed the win.
“I thought we pitched really well,” Hofmann said. “Nick gave us a great start. He was on a tight pitch count today and he gave us five innings. That was exactly what we needed out of him. I was really pleased with him.
“I was pleased with Alex as well with the way he threw in the sixth in a set-up spot and then Lucas closed. He was a cardiac closer, but he did get the job done and that’s what matters. I am very pleased with the way we threw today.”
Along with Jones, SSHS first baseman Chase Hauder also went 2-for-3 at bat.
Spanish Springs will hosts Douglas today at 1:30 p.m. before taking on Elko at 4 p.m. and the SSHS skipper is hoping to see more from the Cougars at the dish.
“Primarily I want to see improvement at the plate. We need to do a better job of hitting the baseball. We have to make adjustments throughout the game. That’s one thing we didn’t do a real good job of today, adjusting to what their guy was doing on the mound. So that’s where we really need to make an improvement.”