There was some sense of relief among Douglas Tiger fans heading into Thursday night's regional playoff game against Spanish Springs, since the Cougars had used Steve Masten, one of the top pitchers in the state, the night prior.
What no one really counted on, however, was for the Cougars' No. 2 starter, Mickey Jannis, to come up with a huge game.
Jannis pitched a complete-game two-hitter, striking out three and shutting out the Tigers 9-0 at Carson High Thursday night.
It marked the first time Douglas had been shut out in nearly two years, with the last one coming in the 2003 regionals against Galena.
"Jannis threw a good game, you have to tip your hat to him," Douglas coach John Glover said. "But our hitters didn't make adjustments.
"We didn't have a good approach at the plate and that is tough, especially when a guy throws as good as he did. A combination of both of those things will end up with a zero on the scoreboard."
Things couldn't have started out much better for the Tigers as pitcher Chad Walling sat down the top three of the Spanish Springs lineup in order and then led off the bottom of the first inning with a double down the third baseline.
Walling advanced to third on a passed ball before D.J. Brady drew a two-out walk. Douglas couldn't capitalize on the baserunners though as the inning ended on a ground-ball fielder's choice.
Douglas' No. 9 hitter Chris Balcom led off the bottom of the third with a single to shallow left and Walling reached on an error at short, but a double play and a line drive to Spanish Springs right-fielder Steve Abina ended that threat.
It would prove to be the last time Douglas got any runners on base until the bottom of the seventh, when D.J. Brady got hit by a pitch to open the inning and Kyle Luken followed by drawing a walk before a strike out and a double play ended the game.
"I told the guys after the game that they had to compete harder than they did tonight," Glover said. "I thought we quit.
"I don't expect that out of our guys. I expect the seniors to pick us back up and take us on our way tomorrow to where I think we should be."
Walling threw a near-perfect game through three innings, striking out six before Spanish Springs' Brad Carlsen homered to right-center and Ryan Laing homered to left-center, both solo shots, in the top of the fourth inning to put the Cougars up 2-0.
The Cougars scooted four more runs across in the sixth, two of which came on a misplayed ball in left field.
Masten, serving as Spanish Springs' designated hitter, put the game away in the top of the seventh, hitting a monster three-run shot to right-center.
Douglas now must fight its way through the loser's bracket and will face Wooster at 3 p.m. today at Carson High.
"We have to figure out a way internally to get it done," Glover said. "There is nothing that we can say, or I can say. It's got to come from them. They have to figure out how to dig deep and get it done."