Douglas High’s defense was a game changer several times Tuesday afternoon in the Class 5A regional opener against No. 7 Damonte Ranch (6-10). With the 11-0 win in five innings over the Mustangs, Douglas will host No. 6 Galena (8-8) after the Grizzlies upset No. 3 Bishop Manogue, 8-7, in eight innings. The Tigers are back at home tomorrow (Wednesday) for another 4 p.m. start. Defense sets tempo In the top of the first, a pair of walks looked as though they could bite the Tigers early. However with the bases loaded and one out, pitcher James Hubbard got out of the jam by inducing a 1-2-3 doubleplay on a ground ball back to him. Douglas’ Gabe Foster capitalized on the defensive stop with a two-run single in the home half of the first inning. In the second, it was third baseman Carter Bleeker made a sleek one-handed backhand stop to help the Tigers retire the Mustangs’ in order. The third inning told the same story as back-to-back singles put two runners on for Damonte Ranch with one out. On a groundball headed for right field, Tiger second baseman Ashton Daveport made a reaching catch, spun and fired to shortstop Gabe Natividad for a force out. Natividad went on to Foster at first to complete the 4-6-3 double play. “You have to make big plays, not only the routine ones, when you’re in the playoffs,” said Douglas head coach Ryan Gonzalez. “Unbelievable defense and great pitching. I’m just glad our bats woke up. That’s really hard to stop.” On the mound, Hubbard went all five innings, throwing 71 pitches and allowing six hits with three strikeouts in the shutout win.
(Douglas second baseman Ashton Davenport slides head first into second base Tuesday, during the Tigers' 11-0 win over Damonte Ranch in the first round of the regional tournament. Davenport went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs in the win. / Ron Harpin)
Timely hitting Douglas put up runs in each of the first three innings as Davenport knocked in the first runs of inning number two. With one out, Davenport drove a single into right field, bringing around Carson Hill and Thomas Young to score. After a walk and a strikeout Foster grounded the ball to short, but an error by Damonte Ranch gave the Tigers a chance to scoot across two more runs. Carson Hill gave Douglas a 7-0 lead in the third with a RBI single of his own. In the bottom of the fourth Hill came back to the plate after Bleeker singled and freshman catcher Jeffrey Peters doubled, putting runners on second and third. Gonzalez called Hill over down the first base line and gave a brief word of advice. “Be ready to hit the fastball and hammer it, and he did,” said Gonzalez. “Good for Carson Hill. That was outstanding and hopefully he can keep that going tomorrow.” Hill took a high fastball and pelted it over the left-center field fence, hitting the top of the third portable classroom over from the left field foul pole. Hill ended the night 3-for-3 with the home run and four RBIs. A team that is riding high with confidence also has matching hairstyles as well nearly the entire roster now boasts bleach blonde hair for the postseason. “I’m just glad I’m not their parents,” laughed Gonzalez. “I did not come up with that, the boys did. They’re having fun, just let them be them.” UP NEXT: With the Grizzlies now laying in wait, Gonzalez didn’t give away who was going to get the starting nod Wednesday. Keegan Snooks could get the call for the Tigers or it could be Braden Melandow – Gonzalez is keeping his cards close to his chest. “We’re still going to decide for tomorrow. Both of those guys are competitors on the mound and we’re going to play great behind them,” said Gonzalez.
(The Douglas High boys baseball team poses after their first round win in the Class 5A boys baseball regional tournament. The Tiger team died their hair blonde for the postseason. / Ron Harpin)