Douglas baseball team wins its first two games | RecordCourier.com
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Douglas baseball team wins its first two games

by Chuck Smock

Douglas opened the Carson High Preseason Baseball Tournament with a pair of dominating performances on Thursday and Friday.

The Tigers started the tournament with a 6-0 win over 3A Fernley on Thursday at Carson. They followed that victory with a 10-0 triumph over 2A Lovelock on Friday morning at the Douglas diamond.

Adam Sheldon did most of the offensive damage against Fernley. He was two-for-three with a double and a triple and knocked in four of the Tigers’ six runs.

Douglas pitcher Austin Graham stifled the Vaqueros. He allowed two hits and struck out eight in four scoreless innings. Andrew Sterling set Fernley down in order in the top of the fifth.

Against Lovelock, Darren Muren struck out seven and didn’t allow a single hit in a game that was shortened to three innings by the eight-run rule.

Graham was two-for-two with a solo home run, a double and three RBI against the Mustangs. Johnny Mannelly, Tyson Tiago, Matt Saylo and Erik Olson also collected hits against Lovelock. Olson and Tiago each knocked in one run.

The Tigers were obviously ready for their season-opening game with the Vaqueros.

Maybe a little too ready.

Fernley pitcher Levi Diaz took the mound with a bag full of off-speed tricks. Douglas hitters went to the plate swinging for the fences. That combination worked in Diaz’s favor as the senior struck out five of the first six Tigers he faced.

“We were out in front,” Sheldon said. “He didn’t have much of a fastball. Once we waited back and tried to take it opposite field, line drives, top half (of the ball), we did all right.

“After my first at-bat, I got used to it. I knew to wait back and keep my body closed. We’ve been working on that.”

Graham struck out four of the first seven batters he faced, but said he didn’t really get into a groove until Diaz struck him out in his first at-bat in the bottom of the second inning.

The Douglas sophomore needed only 10 pitches to strike out the Fernley side in the top of the third.

“I was pretty anxious to pitch (Thursday) in the first game,” Graham said. “Once I struck out, that helped. It made me mad.”

Douglas coach Fred Bendure said he knew his players would need to see a few pitches from Diaz before they would be able to adjust to the off-speed deliveries.

“We just couldn’t time him the first time through the lineup,” Bendure said. “Our second and third at-bats we started getting it going a little bit. We couldn’t time him. His ball was moving and it was a little slower than what the kids had seen in practice. They finally got on him and we got a little rally going.”

In the bottom of the third inning, No. 8 hitter Ryan Haltom was hit by a pitch and Andrew Andrews followed with a single up the middle. Sheldon then came to the plate for the second time and drove a Diaz pitch deep to right center field to dive in both Haltom and Andrews.

Jordan Ovard started a four-run Douglas rally in the bottom of the fourth with a double to right center. Rick Cagle was hit by a pitch and Chad Cooper singled to plate Ovard. Andrews reached on a fielder’s choice, setting up Sheldon, who tripled to right center to score two more runs.

“Overall, for the first game, we did OK,” Bendure said. “We missed a few signs and missed some of the basic, fundamental things. But those are things you expect early in the season.”

One of the many bright spots, the coach said, was the Tigers’ pitching.

“Austin was really throwing it hard when he needed to and his command was right there,” Bendure said. “He got four good innings and that really helped us out. And then Drew Sterling came in and finished it off that last inning. He had real good command and he did a real fine job also.”