Reno created chaos with its bunt game and the Cougars never got off their heels as the third-seeded Huskies stayed in the winners’ bracket with a 7-2 triumph over No. 2 Spanish Springs.
“That’s a well coached team right there. That’s what coach (Pete) Savage does,” SSHS baseball coach Ben Hofmann said. “We had two innings where we didn’t field our positions well. That came back to bite us.”
Spanish Springs, the home team despite playing at Reno High due to wet field conditions at SSHS, got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second.
Jeff McCusker hit a one-out single and Hunter Pinto followed with a double on the right-field line. An RBI groundout by Jake Haley brought in McCusker for the game’s first run.
Reno immediately went to work and took the lead for good in the top of the third.
Chip Bouchard drew a leadoff walk. Jake Clark pushed a bunt single past SSHS pitcher Gehrig Parks. Then, No. 9 hitter Michael Riedeman dropped a bunt down the third-base line that Parks dove to stop. But Parks flipped the ball to third base with no one covering the bag. The ball went down the left-field line, allowing Bouchard to score the tying run and the other two runners to make it to second and third.
With two outs, two runs scored on an infield hit by Brock Tsukamoto when the throw got away at first, leaving the Huskies with a 3-1 advantage.
Graham MacMillan led off the top of the fourth with a seeing-eye single through the hole between short and third. He came home to make it a 4-1 ballgame when Riedeman ripped a line drive single to right-center field.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars had a chance to change the game.
Shannon Kelly singled to left field to start the inning. He stole second and sped over to third when the throw went into the outfield. He sprinted home on Kenny Semenko’s sacrifice fly, which was the second out of the inning.
That’s when it got dicey for Reno starting pitcher Matt Young, who beaned three straight batters to load the bases, ending his night on the mound. He still picked up the pitching win, allowing two runs on four hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out four.
Jake Chambers came on in relief with the bases juiced and got Hunter Pinto to strike out on a check swing.
The Huskies padded their lead with a three-run seventh.
Austin Atkerson had an RBI double. A wild pitch brought in a run, and Kevin Wallace capped the scoring with a hard-hit RBI single up the middle, accounting for the final five-run margin.
Spanish Springs (23-10) faces a do-or-die situation Thursday against Galena. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Reno.
“The kids are used to this,” Hofmann said. “We used to have non-league games on Tuesdays where you could take a day off. Now every game during the season means something, and you can’t take a day off.”