Douglas baseball comes back to beat Galena

Normally, when a team trails 8-1 in the second inning, it almost certainly means it's going to be a long afternoon.

But the Douglas baseball team was unshaken after spotting Galena a big lead early on and the Tigers came back to win a 13-12 non-league contest at Douglas High School Tuesday afternoon.

The Tigers suffered just about every bad break imaginable through the first three innings before they were able to settle things down and get to work.

Sophomore Nate Whalin got the start on the mound for the Tigers, allowed one early run before striking out Basim Azzam which would have ended the first inning. But Azzam reached on the third-strike passed ball and Galena's Jake Hess sent a three-run shot over right field fence two batters later to put Galena up 5-0.

Whalin was pitching what would have otherwise been a solid game, complete with five strikeouts in just two innings of work, but an infield error, a bunt for a single, a series of wild pitches and a two-run double ended Whalin's afternoon early.

He walked a batter to open the third, was hit in the shoulder with a sharp shot off Hess' bat and Galena's Jacob Anderson was ruled safe at first despite running into his own bunt before Ryan Pruitt replaced him on the mound.

With two runners on and no outs, Pruitt induced Galena's Shane Kochenmeister into a fielder's choice as Hess was thrown out at home, and got Justin Norvick to ground into a double play turned nicely by shortstop Jimmy Pierce and second baseman Chad Walling.

"That ground-ball double play, that was huge," Douglas coach John Glover said. "That was a turning point in the game, just a big momentum shift for us."

Douglas had scraped together three runs in the second, and a run apiece in the first and the third to narrow Galena's lead to 9-5 heading into the top of the fourth.

"That's a big hole we put ourselves in," Glover said. "They could have checked it in after that first inning and a half when we were trailing 8-1. That's a tough spot to dig out of.

"But they brought their bats today and they swung it pretty well. I think they all understand that there is no seven-run home run. It takes baserunners to fight back from that, and they did a good job of being patient and swinging at the good pitches."

Pruitt was able to retire the side after allowing a hit in a scoreless fourth, highlighted by a phenomenal diving stop by Walling deep in the hole behind second. He flipped it to Pierce for the out. Walling also made a nice back-handed snag to throw out Hess for the first out in the fifth.

"He made a couple of unbelievable plays today," Glover said. "We made some mental lapses on defense as a team today, but they are working hard at it. I always tell them I'm not looking for the great play, I'm looking for them to make the routine play consistently.

"But we'll take those great ones when they come."

Pruitt started Douglas' comeback in the fourth with a single to left. Galena's Jordan Arnold struck out the next two batters, but then hit Walling with a pitch to put two on.

Pruitt advanced to third on a pick-off attempt, and scored on a passed ball as Pierce drew a walk.

Catcher Roman Davis came up next and worked the count full with two outs before clubbing a huge shot over the 380-foot sign in left center for a three-run home run to tie the game at nine.

"The guy just made a mistake and gave me a fastball right down the middle of the plate," Davis said. "I knew it was coming, he was struggling with his curveball, but it felt good to be able to get my team back in it."

"Roman got into that ball," Glover said. "He let it travel instead of jumping out in front of it. He hit it hard.

"It was just a big hit, another momentum shift in the game. It got everyone excited."

Galena put up another run in the fifth, but Pruitt (2-0) got out of the inning without any further damage.

"Ryan is just a sophomore kid who is competing his butt off and that is what we need - kids stepping up when we get in some trouble," Glover said. "He did a great job of getting us some important innings there."

In the bottom of the fifth, Spike Agosta singled to left and Tyson Estes sacrificed him to second. Pruitt then got hit by a pitch and Ryan Guzman singled to score Agosta.

D.J. Brady then stepped up and delivered a beautiful looping infield single just in between the second and first baseman to bring Pruitt home. Walling sacrificed Brady to second and Pierce reached on an error at third to score Guzman. Mannelly later walked to score Brady to give Douglas a 13-10 lead.

Galena scored two runs in the sixth after Walling took the mound, but Walling closed the game out setting the Grizzlies down in order in the seventh.

Davis was 2-for-two with three RBI, a double, a home run and two runs scored and Walling was 2-for-3 with three RBI, a double and a triple and one run scored to lead the Tigers.

Brady, Agosta and Estes all had doubles as well and Whalin, Brady, Pierce, Mannelly, Agosta and Guzman each finished with an RBI. Agosta also went 2-for-3.

Walling got the save, striking out one in two innings of work.

Arnold took the loss for Galena and Andrew Ferguson went 3-for-3 with two RBI, a double and two runs scored to lead the Grizzlies. Hess went 3-for-4 with the home run and four RBI. Anderson went 2-for-3 with a double and Phil Diaz went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Douglas improved to 9-5-1 on the year and will host South Tahoe at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

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