Douglas baseball gets one step closer to the top | RecordCourier.com

Douglas baseball gets one step closer to the top

by Joey Crandall

John Glover comes into every season admiring the power programs in the North, often commenting that the Renos, Carsons and Galenas of the world don’t just rebuild, they reload.

Looking around the field during the Tigers’ loss to Galena in the semifinals of this year’s regional playoffs, it didn’t go without notice that Douglas is quickly acheiving that status as well.

In each of the last three seasons, Douglas has come one game closer to the regional championship than it had the year prior.

At the end of each of those, the Tigers said goodbye to an enormously talented senior class and twice has watched as the entire starting rotation depart leaving the bullpen looking somewhat thin.

But Douglas has come back, all three years, to be among the top teams in the region. The only thing that was different this year, however, is that the number of starting spots lost to graduation is surprisingly small.

“We’ve got 14 guys back,” Douglas coach John Glover said after the season-ender against Galena. We’ll get back to work this summer and see if we can’t win one of these (regional tournaments).

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“You’d sure hope to win one of these things someday, but it takes a lot of hard work and a couple of good bounces.”

Douglas should return seven regular starters in the field and two starting pitchers. Also back will be utility man Willie Morgan, who missed a majority of the season with an injury to his arm.

The way things started, it didn’t look like it was going to be Douglas’ year at all as the Tigers lost seven of their first nine games.

But once it got its bearings, Douglas rattled off wins in the next 12 games, including an impressive stretch of three no-hitters in four games.

The Tigers stumbled again late in the year, losing six of their last eight regular-season contests, but put it all together in the regional tournament.

Douglas opened with a tough-luck loss to Galena after leading throughout the majority of the game, but came back with big wins against Reed, Reno and Galena to come within a game of the state tournament.

“The kids got a lot further than anyone expected them to,” Glover said. “That’s saying something to have the kids playing their best ball of the year at the end.”

Douglas loses a number of significant players, including D.J. Brady who tossed two no-hitters and was the team’s No. 1 starter and catcher Roman Davis, who for the second year in a row was the best defender behind the plate in the region.

Releiver Chris Kinsley, who picked up the wins in the upsets over Reno and Galena and outfielder Ryan Guzman will also be gone.

Douglas should return just about everyone else however, including its starting infield of Ryan Laing, Phil Mannelly, Jordan Hadlock and Ryan Pruitt, although Pruitt will be a top candidate to move in behind the plate in place of Davis.

Nate Whalin, Tyler May, Niko Saladis and Cory Eilers all return in the outfield and May and Whalin served as the Tigers’ No. 2 and No. 3 starting pitchers this season.

Relievers Pat Lahlum, Brandon Bernard, Adam Burnside and Severin Nobreiga should also be back, as will utility players Jeff White and Willie Morgan.

Glover, who wrapped up his fourth season at the helm of the program, improved his career record to 93-45. He has taken the Tigers to the regional playoffs every season.

DOUGLAS BASEBALL

Finish: Northern 4A Regional semifinalist. Sierra League third place.

Record: 21-17 overall, 14-7 Sierra League, 10-5 home, 7-8 away, 3-4 neutral, 19-13 vs. Northern Nevada teams.

MVP: D.J. Brady, P/OF, sr. Brady did a little bit of everything this season, tossing two no-hitters with a 7-5 record overall and a 6-2 record in league play. He struck out 50 in 35.2 innings in league play and boasted a 2.16 ERA while walking just 10 batters.

He served as the Tigers’ lead-off hitter throughout the season and was a strong center fielder as well. His leadership was apparent during the playoffs as he pitched 11 innings in four days, twice keeping the powerful Galena bats at bay for the majority of the game.

Gamebreaker: Ryan Laing, 1B, jr. Laing hit everything in sight this season with a .903 slugging percentage to go with a .419 average, six doubles and eight home runs. His 28 RBIs led the league.

Unsung hero: Phil Mannelly, 2B, jr. Mannelly, normally a solid first basemen, was forced into duty at second base after middle infielder Willie Morgan went down for the year with an arm injury. Mannelly made the switch look rather easy, and was a consistent cog in the lower heart of the Tigers’ lineup with a .352 average and .500 slugging percentage to go with six doubles and nine RBIs.

Most Improved: Nate Whalin, RF/P/C, jr. Whalin struggled through his first varsity season last year after an impressive season at the junior varsity level. He enjoyed a breakout season this year, batting .300 at the plate with a .617 slugging percentage with four doubles, five home runs and 22 RBIs.

Best game: No. 6 Douglas 9, No. 3 Reno 7 and No. 6 Douglas 8, No. 2 Galena 7 at Reno High School, May 11. In a remarkable period of about six hours, the Tigers fended off elimination against two of the top teams in the region. Freshman Tyler May started against Reno and senior Chris Kinsley came in to close out the win. Kinzley took the ball in the second game and shut down the Grizzlies to complete the upset sweep. The Tigers came from behind in both games, led by Roman Davis, Niko Saladis, Mannelly, Brady and Whalin at the plate.

— Joey Crandall can be reached at jcrandall@recordcourier.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.