Timely Tigers top Miners
With a berth in the Northern Division I baseball playoffs potentially at stake Thursday afternoon, the Douglas Tigers came through with a clutch performance to pull out a 3-2 extra inning victory at home against Bishop Manogue.
Haydn Brown belted a leadoff triple and scored on Isaiah Schat’s single in the eighth inning as Douglas (2-3 league, 3-7 overall) rallied for its win at Tiger Field.
By winning, the Tigers moved from ninth-place in the standings into a three-way tie for seventh with Manogue (2-3, 2-5) and McQueen. Eight teams will advance to the region tournament in May. And after dropping three of four games to start their conference season, including a tough 12-9 loss at Galena on Tuesday, every game is now important to the Tigers.
“We really needed this win, especially after losing to Galena,” Brown said. “We need all of these wins.”
Manogue tied the score 2-all in the seventh on a two-out single by Shane Andrews. Douglas came back in the bottom of the eighth when the left-hand swinging Brown tripled into the left-center field gap, then after back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases, Schat hit a liner into short center field to bring Brown home the winning run.
“It was a fast ball and I just went with the pitch,” Brown said. “I was trying to put the ball in play … you put your hands into it and let your bat do the work.”
The junior baseman also singled and scored the tying run on Logan Fencl’s triple to center field in the sixth inning. Fencl scored an unearned run on a third-strike wild pitch to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Start to finish, the Tigers came through with timely plays both at the plate and in the field on a day when they were outhit 9-8 by the Miners. Manogue left 11 runners stranded, eight of whom were in scoring position.
“The kids did a good job getting outs when they had runners on base,” Douglas coach Marc Walling said.
Douglas junior Hunter Simpson and Manogue sophomore Jonas Whitten locked up in a pitching duel that was scoreless until the Miners pushed across one run in the fifth inning. Simpson worked 6.2 innings, allowed two runs on eight hits and six walks with six strikeouts.
“I’ve been working on my curveball and working hard to get in shape and throw strikes,” Simpson said after throwing 105 pitches in his longest outing of the spring to date. “I just try to keep myself calm and throw strikes.”
Simpson used his offspeed stuff to end a first inning rally with a strikeout and soft liner to Fencl at third base. In the second inning, the right-hander worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam on a ground ball to Kindel Isham at second base and a strikeout.
“Hunter did a good job,” Walling said. “He had good command and good control today.”
Whitten, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander, allowed one earned run on six hits to go with 12 strikeouts and one walk over 5.2 innings.
“He did a good job of keeping us off balance,” Walling said of Whitten. “He had us guessing a lot.”
The Tigers helped their own cause in the field with a pair of rally-killing double plays while catcher Spencer Trivitt threw out three runners on the base paths. Trivitt triggered the first double play after a strikeout when he gunned down a runner attempting to steal second base to end the third inning.
The Miners had an opportunity to extend their 1-0 lead when they opened the sixth inning with back-to-back singles. After a missed bunt attempt, however, Trivitt picked the runner off second base. Moments later, the junior catcher threw out the other runner attempting to steal second. Simpson then got a full-count strikeout to end the inning.
In between, Manogue took a 1-0 in the fifth after a walk and back-to-back singles from Jordan Dicus and Anthony Galati. The Miners still had two runners aboard with no outs until the Tigers’ Kindel Isham, Foster and Brown combined to turn a 4-6-3 double play. Then Manogue’s Andrews, who hit 3-for-4 on the day, scorched a line drive to center field that Tomas Leitenbauer caught to retire the side.
Tanner Valenzuela earned credit for the win after he came on to pitch in the eighth with the potential go-ahead run standing on third base and retired the side on a strikeout.
Big win? Just consider the difference between being 2-3 from 2015, when the Tigers opened with a 10-game losing streak and then missed the playoffs on a tie-breaker.
“This was a big win for the team compared to last year,” Simpson said. “It’s fun to see us battling back like we are.”