Despite the spring blizzard, which at one point prompted a 10-minute delay as a thin layer of snow blanketed the field, Spanish Springs made quick work of the Panthers en route to a 12-2 mercy-rule shortened victory.
Behind a five-inning complete game effort from Audenried, the SSHS offense went to work.
Spanish Springs (16-7, 9-4) wasted no time in its first trip to the dish, batting through the order, with a little help from NVHS, to jump out to a 5-0 advantage after one.
After Kenny Semenko and Lucas Jones took back-to-back walks, Vinny Agliolo singled into right field to load the bases. A walk to Hunter Pinto forced Semenko home for the first run of the contest. A pitch then hit Chase Hauder, bringing Jones across the plate.
With a 2-0 edge, Audenried helped his own cause with a chopper for an infield single and an RBI. Shannon Kelly followed by singling through the left side of the infield to plate Pinto. A walk to Matt Mannens with the bases still juiced then scored Hauder, rounding out the first inning.
The Cougs kept things going in the bottom of the second as they added another run to their advantage. After a leadoff double down the left-field line by Jones, Pinto sent an RBI single back up the middle to leave SSHS up 6-0.
In the third, Spanish Springs extended its lead by three.
A flare into center field off the bat of Audenried and an ensuing drop led the inning off for the Cougars, followed by an error on a bunt that put Kelly on first. With two on, Mannens took advantage with a single into right field to score Audenried. Semenko followed and stepped to the dish with runners on the corners, bringing Kelly home with a sacrifice fly. After a fielder’s choice and stolen base moved Mannens to third, Agliolo ripped a liner into right field to hand the Cougars a 9-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, North Valleys threatened by putting runners on second and third with one out. Following a 10-minute delay due to snow, Audenried worked his way out of the jam. The only damage came on a sac fly to bring the margin to 9-1. Another Panthers’ run in the fourth left the score at 10-2 before Spanish Springs ended the game early.
Three straight walks put the Cougars in prime position to enforce the mercy rule. A passed ball then allowed Mannens to touch home. With runners in scoring position, Agliolo sealed the game for the Purple and Silver with a 2-RBI single into left-center field.
“We had a good approach at the plate,” Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said. “We had a lot of base hits. We just had a real solid approach at the plate all day. When we do that, we can be tough to beat. When we start getting big and what not, then there’s some outs out there, but for the most part today the guys had a really good approach at the plate.”
Agliolo led the Cougar effort at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. Mannens and Pinto both added two RBI apiece, with Mannens recording a 2-for-2 day.
Along with a 2-for-3 effort at the dish, Audenried struck out four while giving up six hits and two walks.
“He’s one of our mentally tough guys and he didn’t let the conditions or the circumstances get to him,” Hofmann said. “He really is mentally tough, and that’s what we’ve come to expect from Nikk. It doesn’t matter who we play. It doesn’t matter the weather and it doesn’t matter the situation. He’s always going to give us a competitive start. He’s as mentally tough on the mound as anybody I’ve seen in the league.”
Spanish Spring will look to complete the series sweep as it visits North Valleys Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.