Instead, he welcomed the challenge of having a thin bench and liked his lineups Friday. Unfortunately, for the Purple and Silver, that only translated to one win on a day the team needed two in order to win its tournament.
Spanish Springs claimed a 3-2 win over Douglas in the game that decided who would face Carson in the championship. The Senators then remained undefeated for the week by dispatching the host Cougars 5-2 in the final.
The defense failed Spanish Springs in the bottom of the third.
With one out, Dom Norton singled and then stole second to get in scoring position for Gehrig Tucker, who laced a shot that short hopped the shortstop and allowed Norton to break the scoreless tie.
Tucker then came home on Luke Maher’s two-run home run that was nearly robbed at the left-field fence.
Two infield errors put runners on first and second. With two outs, Zak Harjes singled to left. A bobble allowed the fourth run of the inning to score.
“We just didn’t play clean. When Garrett (Covington) is pitching, we need to play clean defensively because he‘s going to put the ball in play,” Hofmann said. “We just had one letdown inning. Maybe we were tired mentally. That proved to be the undoing for us.”
Carson went ahead 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth when TJ Thomsen led off with a double to the right-center field gap and came home on a line drive single by Tucker. Tucker finished the game 3-for-3 with two RBI.
Spanish Springs was retired in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings against Carson pitcher Harjes, but the Senator hurler got in trouble in the sixth.
He gave up a leadoff single to No. 9 hitter Kyle Messer and proceeded to load the bases with a single to Gehrig Parks and a walk.
Messer cut the deficit to 5-1 when Jake Haley singled to left field. An infield groundout plated Parks. But the Cougars stranded two runners and would not score again, despite loading the bases in the top of the seventh.
“I think we hit the pitcher twice in the last two innings. If both those balls go up the middle and we miss the pitcher by two inches, we score two or maybe four runs in those two innings,” Hofmann said. “We had runners on both times. Like I said, maybe it was some unlucky breaks and credit their guys for being positioned properly. It happens.”
Harjes picked up the pitching win by working six innings. He gave up two runs on four hits, while walking three.
Spanish Springs (15-6) have a busy upcoming week. It hosts Bishop Manogue Monday at 3:45 p.m. before getting back into a normal league schedule with games against North Valleys on Tuesday and Thursday. The Cougars conclude the week with a doubleheader against Douglas.
The two teams had a preview of that matchup early Friday.
With the score 2-2, it all came down to who would get the clutch hit. One team did. The other didn’t.
Douglas had a runner on third with one out in the top of the fifth, but that’s where he stayed.
Spanish Springs also got a runner on third with one out in the bottom half of the fifth after Messer ripped a leadoff double to the gap in left-center field and advanced 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt.
The Cougars scored the eventual game-winning run on a squeeze play perfectly executed by Kenny Semenko.
The Tigers threatened again in the top of the sixth, starting the inning with back-to-back hits. However, a popped up bunt attempt failed to move the runners over, and consecutive flyouts ended the inning.
Douglas put two runners on in the top of the seventh thanks to a pair of walks by SSHS pitcher Anthony Tiscareno. Hofmann brought in closer Lucas Jones to shut the door and he induced a game-ending double play to set up the championship matchup with Carson.
The game with Douglas was a see-saw battle throughout.
The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the opening inning. Chase White doubled and traded places with Dillon Lopez, who doubled him home.
The Cougars knotted the score at 1-1 on a two-out double by Chase Hauder in the bottom of the second.
In the top of the third, Douglas went up 2-1 when it got a second chance.
With runners on first and second and no outs, a groundball out to second moved up the runners to second and third. On a grounder to third, Spanish Springs recorded the second out of the inning at first base. The trail runner almost ran the Tigers out of the inning, but he was able to run from third back to second without drawing a throw as the Cougars were too worried about the lead runner.
Douglas took advantage of the second life. Joe Almeida singled to left field, driving in Kaleb Foster from third. Nolan Weintz tried to score from second but was gunned out at the plate.
The Cougars pushed across the tying run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI groundout by Hunter Pinto.
Tiscareno pitched 3 1-3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory.
McCusker paced the Cougars’ office with two hits.
White and Almeida both had two hits in the loss.