First round thursday in 4-a zone tournament | RecordCourier.com
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First round thursday in 4-a zone tournament

by Chuck Smock

The Douglas Tigers and Carson Senators are ready to add another chapter to their baseball rivalry on Thursday in the first round of the Northern 4A Zone tournament at Carson High at 4 p.m.

But there’s more at stake than bragging rights. The winner will get a day’s rest before meeting the Galena-Wooster winner on Saturday afternoon. The loser will face an elimination game Friday night at 7 p.m.

And despite the proximity and the history between the two schools, Douglas head coach Fred Bendure insists his players are thinking about one thing: baseball.

“We’re concentrating on the first game, but we’re not focusing on Carson,” the Tigers coach said. “We’re thinking about the things we have to execute to be successful in the tournament.

“Winning the first game of the tournament is always big. That gets you going. I think everybody is up. I think everybody is excited about getting into the zone tournament. We just can’t wait until Thursday.”

The Tigers spent most of Monday’s practice working on the defensive execution of a variety of bunt situations. In the last meeting between the two teams, the Senators bunted successfully several times late in the game to turn a tenuous 4-2 lead into an 11-4 victory at the DHS diamond.

“The mood is excellent,” Bendure said. “We had one of our best practices of the year (on Monday). Everyone is real excited.”

On Tuesday, the focus for the Tigers was on offense: hitting, bunting, advancing runners and being smart on the bases.

“The kids are working real hard and everyone’s confidence is high,” Bendure said. “They are becoming more comfortable with every situation so they can make the play without even thinking about it.”

The Tigers enter the zone tournament riding a wave of momentum that includes a 9-4 conference record in April. And two of those setbacks were to regular-season champ Reno, which lost only three games all season.

Senior pitcher Jared Silveira will start for the Tigers. Silveira, who has signed to play next year with Sonoma State, finished the regular season with complete-game victories over Fallon, Sparks and Wooster.

Senior Kyle Wentz and freshman Austin Graham also pitched very well down the stretch for Douglas and will give the Tigers much-needed depth in the double-elimination zone tournament.

“This is big for the seniors,” Bendure said. “The tournament is the showcase for the league. A lot of people are watching and it’s a chance for the players to show what they can do. It’s a real positive atmosphere.”