Big inning, missed opportunities sink Tigers
Both the Douglas Tigers and McQueen Lancers had some early highlights and missed opportunities on a frigid and windy Thursday afternoon in their Northern 4A conference baseball contest.
Ultimately, the Lancers managed to capitalize on more of those opportunities on their way to an 18-1 victory that spoiled the Tigers’ season home opener in front of an approaching snowstorm.
McQueen (2-0 conference, 4-3 overall) sent 17 batters to the plate during its game-breaking 11-run fourth inning rally. The Lancers benefited from eight walks, two hit batsmen and four hits during the rally in a game called after four innings due to the 15-run mercy rule.
Earlier, Douglas (0-2, 2-5) had multiple base runners in each of the first three innings, yet was unable to come up with a timely hit against McQueen sophomore pitcher Aidan Vestbie.
Andrew Rangel lined a single into left field to lead off the Tigers’ first inning rally. Jayden Foster followed with a double that one-hopped the left field fence and Ayden Murphy’s wind-blown fly ball to right field fell for a run-scoring single. The Tigers had runners on second and third with one out, however, Vestbie set down the next two batters on strikeouts to end the threat.
Down 7-1 in the third inning, the Tigers had runners at the corners with two outs, only to see Vestbie retire the side on a ground out. In the third, Foster singled on a soft-liner over third base and Murphy reached on an infield hit with no outs. The Tigers missed an opportunity to advance the runners when McQueen catcher Jacob Ehlen caught a pop fly bunt for the first out. Vestbie then set down the next two batters on a fly out to right field and a strikeout.
McQueen scored four runs in the second inning to extend its lead to 7-1. The Lancers had the bases loaded and no outs before Douglas threw out two base runners at home. Catcher Elijah Lyons applied the inning’s first putout after taking a throw from Foster at shortstop on the back end of a double steal, then got the third out when center fielder Andrew Rangel threw a strike to the plate after McQueen’s Gabe Gomez lined a single up the middle.
Rangel, who started on the mound for Douglas, had another assist in the first inning when he handled a ground ball in front of the plate and flipped the ball to Lyons for the second out.
Vestbie pitched all four innings for McQueen to earn the win. The right-hander allowed five hits to go with six strikeouts and two walks.
Matt White hit 3-for-3 with two RBI and Mason Winship went 2-for-2 with three RBI to help the Lancers complete their sweep of the two-game series. McQueen defeated Douglas 15-10 Tuesday in Reno.
Douglas returns home on Tuesday play North Valleys in a 3:45 p.m. conference game at Tiger Field.