Baseball: Nolan Weintz delivers game-winner for Douglas
All game long, Saturday morning, the Douglas baseball team had been looking for a shot in the arm.
They ended up getting it.
With the game tied at 2 and runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Douglas catcher Kaleb Foster belted a sharp foul ball square into the left elbow of Tiger cleanup hitter Nolan Weintz, who was standing in Douglas’ on-deck circle.
Weintz retreated to the dugout and applied an ice pack to the elbow while Foster worked a four-pitch at-bat into a single to load the bases with one out.
That single chased Reed starter Thomas Sertic, who had been superb through six and a third innings, and the pitching change gave Weintz time to regain his grip on the bat.
Weintz then stepped to the plate, fought through several pitches and belted a 2-2 pitch into the left-center gap for the game-winning hit.
Douglas pocketed the 3-2 win, but fell in the nightcap 10-3 as their record bumped to 17-12 overall and 11-9 in Northern Division I play with only a two-game series with Carson remaining.
“Offensively, it was tough to start, that’s a fact,” Douglas coach Bruce Jacobsen said. “But we got the big hits when we needed them. We got it back to the top of the lineup and the kids just got it done.”
Trailing 2-1, Cody Carter led the bottom of the seventh off with a big double to right-center.
That brought leadoff man Dusty Fisher to the plate and he doubled as well, bringing Carter around for the tying run.
Chase White grounded into an apparent fielder’s choice to the left side of the infield but Fisher held the throw up by leading several steps off of second base before retreating in time for White to reach first safely.
That brought Foster up, who lined the first pitch he saw straight off Weintz’s arm.
“He had a good-sized knot where it hit,” Jacobsen said. “We got Teddy Mason up and ready to go in case Nolan couldn’t go. We were lucky to get the pitching change right then. I got to talk with Nolan and he said he was fine. He’s our No. 4 hitter, so obviously we want him up if he can go.”
Weintz said it was a matter of believing the pain would subside.
“I grabbed my bat at first and didn’t have any grip strength,” Weintz said. “But every time I squeezed it, it came back a little more. I was just waiting for it to get better. I know getting hit with a ball aways hurts worst right at the beginning. I was hoping it would cool down, and it did.”
Weintz took the first pitch for a ball, fouled the second off, took the third for a ball and took a called strike on the fourth pitch.
“I was just trying to get contact to the outfield anywhere,” he said. “Every time I’d swing, my elbow kind of gave up on me, so I figured I just had to be done swinging and missing.”
Weintz’s shot would have been good for a double, if not for the walk-off run.
“He gets to two strikes in that at-bat and he stayed with it,” Jacobsen said. “That was a senior coming through for us, big time.
“He’ll have to keep icing it and we’ll rest him up. Luckily for us, we get four days off until we play again, so he should be good to go.”
The late inning heroics nearly overshadowed a very strong outing on the mound from junior Kyle Johnson.
Johnson, who picked up the save in a win over Reno on Thursday, started Saturday for Douglas and struck out six while walking three and scattering just two hits over seven innings of work.
“He was getting no run support whatsoever early on,” Jacobsen said. “He just battled. He really got after it today. Reed is always a good hitting team and Coach Phenix always does a great job with them.
“Anytime you can keep metal bats to two runs, you’re throwing a great game. Kyle kept us in there. He’s throwing really well right now and he was absolutely huge for us today.”
Reed’s Sertic was equally strong on the mound, striking out three, walking one and allowing just six hits until the final inning.
The Raiders had gone up 2-0 by virtue of an RBI single from Brett Chaney in the top of the third and a sacrifice fly from Jonathan Pinto in the top of the fourth.
Douglas came back with a run in the bottom of the sixth as Cale Kynett doubled Foster home.
Also at the plate for Douglas, Fisher, Foster and Weintz all went 2-for-4, Kynett was 2-for-2 and Joe Almeida and Carter each had one hit.
In Game 2, Douglas ran into Reed’s ace Mark Nowaczewski, who will pitch for the University of Nevada next season.
Nowaczewski kept a no-hitter going through three innings while the Raiders built a big lead.
Douglas crossed a single run in the fourth, the fifth and the sixth but left the bases loaded in the sixth to end any comeback hopes.
“He (Nowaczewski) is a very good pitcher,” Jacobsen said. “It took our guys a while to adjust to him.”
Chase White finished with two hits to lead the Tigers while Fisher, Foster and Kynett each had a hit.