Clutch-hitting Tigers top Miners
Timely hitting was a big focus for the Douglas Tigers Thursday afternoon coming into their Northern Division I baseball contest against Bishop Manogue.
That focus helped Douglas produce nine runs — all after two outs — through five innings on their way to a big 9-0 victory at Tiger Field.
Douglas (16-7 overall, 10-4 league) snapped a three-game losing streak that included a 4-3 loss against Manogue two days before at Aces Ballpark in Reno. The Tigers managed only four hits in that game, however, Thursday’s rematch saw all nine starters contributed to the team’s 13-hit attack.
“To rebound after Tuesday when we dropped a game we thought we should have won, and break a three-game skid, we had a lot of plusses today,” Douglas coach Bruce Jacobsen said.
The damage could have been more extensive since the Tigers left 11 base runners stranded, however, the clutch hits that did fall came as a welcome sight.
“That’s something we didn’t get done Tuesday,” Jacobsen said of the two-out hits. “That was one of the things we talked about. It’s easy to go up there with nobody on base and get a hit. To do it when the pressure’s on, with two guys on base and two outs, that’s a tribute to our hitters and their ability to stay focused.”
This was a critical game since Manogue (11-10, 9-5), Douglas and Reed were tied for third-place coming into the day. Coupled with Reed’s 13-12 loss at Wooster on Thursday, the Tigers moved back into sole possession of third-place.
“This was huge for us to come back and win after a tough loss Tuesday,” said senior left fielder Parker Dixon, who hit 3-for-3 with one RBI. “We were hitting in situations when we needed to. It was just a great team win.”
Cole Peck scattered four hits with 10 strikeouts over 6.2 innings to earn the win. It’s the third time this season Peck has won in games he pitched when the Tigers were coming off a loss — and two of those have been shutouts.
Peck helped his own cause with a sacrifice bunt that moved two runners into scoring position in the second inning and he added an RBI single in the fourth that made it 7-0.
Douglas took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Dalton Grisell walked and scored on Kaleb Foster’s double into the right-center field gap.
The Tigers came back to add two unearned runs in the second. Kyle Johnson was hit by a pitch, Dixon singled, then after Peck’s sacrifice bunt, both runners scored when Cale Kynett’s ground ball was misplayed for an error.
Douglas extended its lead to 5-0 in the third. Matt Santos hit a bad-hop single past third base, Dixon’s short fly ball to right field fell for another single and then Dusten Plante lined the first pitch he saw into left field for a two-run single.
“I got an inside fastball and just turned on it,” Plante said. “I wanted to get the job done with a hit, nothing more than that.”
Santos drew an 11-pitch walk with two outs to start another rally in the fourth. Santos scored moments later when Johnson blasted a full-count pitch off the center field fence and Peck followed with his RBI single.
On the mound, Peck allowed his first base runner on a two-out walk in the third inning but then received support defensively when shortstop Dillon Lopez made a diving catch of a line drive up the middle for the third out.
The Miners had runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth inning, however, Plante at second base made a not-so-routine catch of a wind-blown pop fly.
“I saw it drifting, it had a lot of spin, so I just tried to stay with it,” Plante said. “I was happy to make that catch.”
The Tigers only committed one error, and that came after two outs in the seventh inning.
“Our defense is solid,” Peck said. “It’s reassuring for any pitcher to have a good defense behind you.”
The senior left-hander helped his own cause after Manogue’s Connor Nelson doubled and Matt DeRicco walked to lead off the fifth. Peck struck out the next two batters and then handled a bunt down the third base line for the third out. He also ended the sixth inning on back-to-back strikeouts with a runner on second base.
Zach Davies came on to retire the final batter with two runners on base to close out the game for the Tigers, who host two-time defending region tournament champion Reno Tuesday.
Looking ahead, all of the remaining games are going to be critical. Just remember, the top four teams in the league’s regular season earn home field advantage for the start of the region tournament.
“This was a big win coming off three losses,” Peck said. “We just want to keep it rolling on into the playoffs, and hopefully further.”