Baseball: Douglas clinches league title with sweep of Wooster
It would’ve been hard to tell that the Douglas High baseball team had just clinched their first regular-season championship in nearly 15 years Saturday afternoon after sweeping a doubleheader from Wooster.
A couple hand shakes, some hearty pats on the back and the Tigers were back to being all business.
As far as they were concerned, the biggest games of the regular season still wait right around the corner.
“No celebration, we have a lot of season left I hope,” Douglas coach John Glover said after the Tigers picked up 1-0 and 10-4 wins over the Colts at Douglas High. “We have a big week next week.
“It’s a different deal. Records don’t matter, this has been what it has been for the last 90 some-odd years. It’s Carson and it’s the rival.”
That’s right, Carson.
The Tigers travel to Carson Thursday afternoon for a 3:30 p.m. matchup with their arch rivals and then come back home for a season-finale doubleheader against the Senators beginning at 10 a.m.
“That’s absolutely something to play for,” Glover said. “I’ve been on both sides of that and it is an exciting deal.
“We can’t expect anything less than what it always is, and that’s three great baseball games.”
All the talk of the Senators after the game nearly overshadowed the fact that the Tigers clinched the Sierra League title with the sweep, becoming the first team not named the Reno Huskies to do so since the Northern 4A switched to new league formats four years ago.
“It does feel good,” Glover said. “It’s not an easy thing to do.
“We have a great league all the way through. It’s not something that has come around this way in a long time, so I am proud of the kids. They played hard and they’ve done a great job to this point.”
Douglas escaped with a 1-0 win in game one against Jake Rasner, widely considered to be one of the best pitchers in the state, in game one after Spike Agosta crossed the plate on a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth.
What no one really counted on was that the Tigers’ Chad Walling would be there to match Rasner pitch-for-pitch all game.
Walling struck out eight and walked one, allowing seven hits in a complete-game shutout win as he improved to 6-2 on the year.
“Chad has been doing a great job all year,” Glover said. “He and Tyson have kind of been the staple of our rotation. They battle and they don’t give in. He just had a really good outing today.”
Rasner struck out seven, walked none and gave up five hits and no earned runs in taking the loss.
“He’s awesome,” Glover said. “That guy over there was just incredible and he threw his heart out today.
“We got lucky. Scoring on a passed ball, we’ll take them however we can get them.”
With both pitchers throwing shutouts heading into the sixth inning, Agosta looped an infield single just over Rasner’s head and Jimmy Pierce followed by dribbling a single down the third-base line into left field.
Both runners advanced on a passed ball, but Rasner induced a ground out and a strikeout.
Glover then pinch hit with Nate Whalin, who swung at the first pitch he saw, but the ball got loose between the catcher’s legs, give Agosta enough time to cross home.
It proved to be all Douglas would need as Walling closed out the game with a strikeout, a sacrifice bunt and a ground out to short.
“The defense was absolutely phenomenal behind me making plays and backing me up,” Walling said. “They were all over the place for me.
“I just wanted to go out there and do all I could.”
Douglas left little doubt at all in the second game.
The Tigers scored 10 runs in the first four innings and hung on from there to pick up the win.
Chris Balcom struck out three and walked two through four scoreless innings for the Tigers, but Jimmy Pierce picked up the win in relief with four strikeouts and no walks.
Douglas got things going in the second when D.J. Brady doubled down the left-field line and Kyle Luken was hit by a pitch.
Phil Mannelly singled to center and Roman Davis sacrificed Brady home.
Tyson Estes then stepped up and clubbed a 1-2 pitch for a mammoth home run to right field, the first of his career.
For the game, Mannelly had three RBIs, Luken drove in two, Brady had two doubles and Agosta had a double.
“They came out on fire and they were eager to hit,” Glover said. “Hitting off Jake is no easy task, so they wanted to get their hits in for the day too.
“They came out and put up a couple numbers early. We had a good approach, we were aggressive at the plate, we got some big hits and scored early.”
Douglas (22-6-1, 15-0) has now won 16 of its last 17 games.
DOUGLAS 1, WOOSTER 0
Wooster 000 000 0 – 0 7 2
Douglas 000 001 x – 1 5 1
Ja. Rasner and Carroll. Walling and Davis. WP: Walling (6-2). LP: Rasner. SO: Walling 8, Rasner 7. BB: Walling 1, Rasner 0.
Wooster hitting: Williams 1-3, Joustra 2-3, McNeill 1-3, Rabe 2-2, Ja. Rasner 1-3.
Douglas hitting: Walling 2-3, Agosta 1-2, Pierce 1-3, Balcom 1-2. 2B: Walling 1.
Record: Douglas 21-6-1, 14-0.
DOUGLAS 10, WOOSTER 4
Wooster 000 010 3 – 4 8 1
Douglas 043 300 x – 10 12 2
Rabe, Greene (4) and Carroll. Balcom, Pierce (5), Estes (7) and Davis. WP: Pierce (1-0). LP: Rabe. SO: Rabe 1, Greene 2, Balcom 3, Pierce 4. BB: Balcom 2, Rabe 1.
Wooster hitting: Williams 2-2, Lazzari 2-3, Joustra 2-3, Greene 1-1, Smit 1-1. 2B: Joustra, Smit. RBI: Joustra 2, Greene 1, Smit 1.
Douglas hitting: Walling 2-3, Agosta 1-4, Pierce 1-2, Brady 2-3, Luken 1-2, Mannelly 3-3, Davis 1-1, Estes 1-3. 2B: Agosta 1, Brady 2. RBI: Brady 1, Luken 2, Mannelly 3, Davis 1, Estes 3.
Record: Douglas 22-6-1, 15-0.
— Joey Crandall can be reached at email@example.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.