Douglas wins two of three in tournament
MINDEN — Baseball really is a simple game. All you have to do is hit, catch and throw the ball and you stand a very good chance of winning.
The Douglas Tigers covered each of those bases in two of three games on Friday, and predictably, they won those two games to remain alive in the USABA 15-and-under World Series at Douglas High School.
“It’s an amazing game,” manager Bill Whalin said with a chuckle. “You make no errors, or even just one or two, and things tend to go your way.”
Darren Brady pitched a five-inning shutout, was supported by an errorless defense and the Tigers banged out six timely hits to defeat the Seattle Bombers 9-0 in a loser-out game to advance into the tournament’s final four.
Earlier, Douglas dropped into the losers bracket with a 9-1 loss against the Tri-County (Fresno, Calif.) Hurricanes, who are undefeated so far in the tournament.
The Tigers opened in the morning and rode the four-hit shutout pitching of Jeff Young to a 6-0 victory against Sonora (Calif.) in a makeup game played after the two teams were rained out on Thursday.
Douglas continues today with an elimination game against the Langley (B.C.) Blaze at 1 p.m. at James Lee Regional Park.
“The thing is, I still don’t think we’ve played completely to our potential,” Whalin said. “There’s been some glimpses here and there, so we’re hoping they bring their A game to the park tomorrow.”
Tri-County looked like the A team in Friday’s middle game as Gabe Rodriguez pitched four-hit ball and helped his own cause with an RBI single in the Hurricanes’ game-breaking five-run second inning. The game was called after five innings due to the tournament’s eight-run rule.
The Tigers were hurt by four errors, three of which came in that big second inning rally, but it probably didn’t matter against a Tri-County team that won its seventh straight game in the tournament.
Rodriguez struck out six, walked none and hit one batter en route to his second win of the tournament (he beat Langley 5-3 earlier in the week). The right-hander saw varsity action as a varsity pitcher for Fresno High School this spring.
Brooks Greenlee pitched into the fifth inning and allowed seven hits for the Tigers.
“Brooks pitched well, we just had one ugly inning,” Whalin said. “You can’t have those against a good team like Tri-County.”
The Hurricanes finished the round robin portion of the tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Tigers were the No. 3 seed.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Tri-County again,” Whalin said.
Josh Franco, Chase Quinn and Rodriguez had two hits each for the Hurricanes. Roman Davis led Douglas with two hits, including an RBI single in the second inning.
Young turned in a sterling performance on the mound for Douglas in the morning game. The right-hander scattered five hits, struck out five, gave up one walk (in the seventh inning) and only needed 74 pitches to get through his seven inning stint.
“Jeff threw well,” Whalin said. “He was just throwing fastball/changeup and he did a good job with his off speed stuff.”
He was aided by a defense that committed no errors and produced some big plays in the field.
The first came when Douglas was protecting a 2-0 lead in the second inning. With two outs and a runner on third, second baseman Niko Saladis gloved a chopper behind the bag and threw out the batter to end the rally.
In the fifth, Jake Stratton made a diving stop of a shot down the third base line and threw to Nate Whalin at first for the second out. The play was important because Sonora’s Josh Schultz followed with a base hit, then Stratton caught a hot liner to end the inning.
Brady allowed three hits over five innings, struck out two and walked two in his victory against Seattle.
Douglas broke up a 1-0 struggle with eight runs in the fourth inning. Kyle Luken walked and Nate Whalin reached on an error to lead off the inning. After back-to-back grounders to the pitcher for two outs, Stratton’s single to center drove home one run. Greenlee followed with an RBI double to left-center. Davis singled and Brady walked to load the bases and Chad Walling singled to give Douglas a 5-0 lead. After a pitching change, Luken drilled the first pitch he saw into the right field corner for a bases clearing double. Luken scored moments later on an error to make it 9-0.