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On the road with DHS tigers

by Chuck Smock

Making the long drive to Elko to play the Indians -in any sport – is rarely considered a fun road trip.

Six hours each way with a game against a solid opponent sandwiched in between adds up to a long day.

Things can get worse, however. And they did Thursday, when the bus carrying the Douglas baseball team broke down on the way home, delaying the Tigers’ arrival at DHS until 4 a.m.

One little factor made the extended trip easier to take: The Tigers’ 15-8 win over the Indians a few hours earlier had secured a spot in the upcoming Northern 4A Zone tournament.

“Our first goal was to make the playoffs,” first-year head coach Fred Bendure said Friday morning after only a couple hours sleep. “The coaching staff and the kids are really happy. The kids have really played hard and we’re really proud of them.”

The win over Elko was Douglas’ 10th conference victory in its last 14 games. The Tigers have rallied from a 2-6 start in league play and can finish as high as fifth in the standings.

Douglas (12-10) will finish the regular season today by hosting Wooster (11-11) today in a key doubleheader.

Fallon (12-10) is tied with Douglas for fifth place in the standings and will play Hug (5-17) in a doubleheader today.

If Douglas and Fallon finish with the same records, the Tigers will earn the fifth-place berth in the zone tournament by virtue of the run-differential tie breaker.

Overall, Douglas is 11-4 in its last 15 games. Bendure said the Douglas coaches and players will try to treat today’s games with Wooster with the same playoff intensity they’ll need when the zone tournament starts May 4.

“It’s important to continue the momentum,” the coach said. “The kids have grown every game as a team. The confidence level is much higher. At the beginning of the year, the kids were a little tentative, but now they feel like they can play with anybody.”

Against Elko Thursday, the Tigers broke open a close game with a five-run rally in the top of the seventh that included home runs by Rich French and Rick Cagle. French, who was 2-for-4 with four RBI, blasted a three-run homer in the seventh. Cagle’s home run came in a clutch pinch-hit situation.

Bobby Lee also had a great day at the plate. He was 4-for-5 with three doubles and three RBI.

Shane Cauley was 2-for-2 and belted a two-run home run.

Chris Murray was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Jordan Ovard was 2-for-3 with one RBI.

Kyle Wentz started the game at catcher, but was pressed into a relief role early when starter Trevor Crawford was chased after 1 2/3 innings.

Wentz pitched the rest of the game, striking out four, walking none and allowing five hits to get the win and improve his record to 3-1.