Battered, bruised and battle-weary, the Douglas baseball team will come into
next week's Northern 4A Regional tournament riding a two-game losing streak.
It may be the first time in coach John Glover's career that he's been pleased with such circumstances.
Walking away from his team's 9-7 loss to Reno in eight innings Friday afternoon after his team had trailed by five runs late for the second consecutive day, he couldn't help but be impressed with his team's fight.
"These were just great games," Glover said. "Reno did a great job of pulling it out at the end, but I was very encouraged by our lack of quit.
"We just kept fighting and fighting. I was very impressed with the kids' ability to stay in the game and get it done."
While Reno came away with the Sierra League championship, both teams got a week's head start on the playoffs with two of the best games played anywhere in the region this season.
Reno came from behind to pull out an 11-10 win Thursday in Reno on a walk-off single and clinched the title with the extra-inning win Friday.
Douglas won the series opener 6-1 on Wednesday.
"The playoffs absolutely already started for us," Glover siad. "We had three great games with the league championship on the line. Unfortunately, we couldn't close it out, but we are battle-tested and ready for the tournament now.
"You never want to head in on a two-game losing streak, but at the same time I though we played really well. The biggest thing every year is how you enter the tournament and despite the losses I think we are playing some of our best baseball so far."
The game, which marked the final league matchup between the schools as Reno will move to the High Desert League next year, had plenty of high drama to go around as it featured seven pitching changes and a total of 26 different players on the field.
Reno's Austin Nyman led the way for the Huskies going 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBI while Pat Gallagher and Zach Sanford each added two RBI apiece.
Tim Rudnick ended up leading Douglas at the plate with three RBI, two doubles and a 3-for-4 clip.
Troy Torres and Tanner Thomas each went 2-for-4 as Torres drove in a pair of runs and Jordan Hadlock and Tyler Hoelzen each drove in one.
Reno wasted little time building a big lead, scoring the first six runs of the game through the top of the fourth before Douglas was able to answer in the bottom half.
Rudnick slapped a two-out, bases-empty single up the middle and Hoelzen doubled into the left field gap to bring Rudnick around. Torres followed with a single to score Hoelzen and cut the lead to 6-2.
Reno came right back with a run in the fifth and kept Douglas quiet through the bottom half.
Reliever Beau Battista, a sophomore who was making his first varsity appearance on the mound for the Tigers, gave way to senior Jordan Hadlock after Reno's Gallagher reached on an error and Shawn Walters singled to left. Hadlock induced a fly out to left and a foul out to first to hang the first zero of the day on the scoreboard for the Huskies.
Thomas led things off in the bottom half with a double to left and Rudnick doubled to score him.
Rudnick moved to third on a fielder's choice and Torres hit a sacrifice fly to bring him home, cutting the score to 7-4 heading into the top of the seventh.
Reno managed to load up the bases with one out, but the Tigers managed to get out of it without allowing a run as Glenn Wallace got thrown out at home as he was attempting to score on a passed ball and Gallagher flied out to right.
Kyle Flagg led off the bottom of the inning with a single for Douglas and Beau Davis singled to move Tyler May, running for Flagg, to third.
Hadlock hit a sacrifice fly to bring May home and Thomas followed with a single to left.
Rudnick then hit a double to deep center to tie up the game as Thomas and Davis scored.
Reno then issued an intentional walk to Hoelzen and Torres hit a single to potentially bring the game-winning run home, but Reno's Sanford made an excellent play on it in right field and threw a perfect strike home to catcher Shawn Walters, who made the tag a sliding Rudnick.
Reno got its final runs on a one-out, two-on single and a two-out bases loaded single.
Reno's Cavin Hill retired the Tigers in order in the bottom half to seal up the win.
Douglas will open the playoffs at home Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. against either Galena or Reed and will play out the remainder of the bracket at Manogue through the end of the week.
"We're excited," Glover said. "It's all about the zone tournament. We work hard all year for it. We'll focus on that and see if we can't get through that thing."