McQueen outduels Douglas 1-0
MINDEN — No pitcher ever wants to see a shutout performance wasted. McQueen High School’s Richard Moore made sure his wasn’t when he delivered a RBI double in the top of the seventh inning to break up a scoreless duel against Douglas on Tuesday.
As it turned out, one run was enough as Moore pitched two-hit ball over six-plus innings and Eric Merson came on in relief to slam the door shut in the bottom of the seventh in McQueen’s 1-0 win against Douglas on an overcast, 40-degree afternoon.
James Johnson drew a two-out walk in the seventh and came all the way around to score when Moore lined a double to the fence in right field to give the Lancers a 1-0 lead.
Then when Moore ran into his first jam, Merson came on to retire three straight batters and close out a non-conference game that could serve as a preview to the Northern 4A Regional Tournament next month.
Both teams are in the thick of the playoff picture: Douglas is fourth in the Sierra League (6-3 in league, 12-8 overall) while McQueen is tied for second in the High Desert League (7-2, 16-5).
“We’re playing the game the way it’s meant to be played and that’s where as a coach, I’m very proud of this team,” McQueen coach Brian Nelson said. “We’re not playing the opponent, we’re going out and playing the baseball, and we’re taking care of the baseball offensively and defensively. I’ve told the kids, if they do that, good things will happen, and right now we’re winning some ball games.”
Moore supplied a welcome boost for the pitching staff.
“Rich hasn’t thrown a lot of innings, but we’ve been waiting for him to blossom and today he finally got him to show us, as well as Douglas, and the rest of the league that he is capable of throwing the baseball,” Nelson said.
Shane Cauley lined a hit-and-run single over second base in the sixth inning and Austin Graham ripped a ground ball single past third base to lead off the seventh, accounting for the two Douglas hits.
“If you can hit, you can win and we didn’t do that today,” Douglas coach Hal Wheeler said. “He (Moore) was painting the black and we didn’t adjust to it. We should have went up there thinking the other way, but evidently, it didn’t work that way.”
Douglas lost despite solid pitching from Collin Muren and Tommy Hoyle. Muren allowed two hits and three walks before leaving with one out in the fourth. Hoyle worked out of a bases loaded jam with a strikeout to end the fifth and left a runner stranded on second in the sixth.
Another bright spot for the Tigers was a defense that gave up just one error during a game in which McQueen left 10 base runners stranded. They turned two double plays — Marc Walling, Cauley and Erik Olson combined on a 4-6-3 ground ball twin-killing to end a rally in the third inning — and Cauley made a leaping catch of a line drive to save a run in the first.
“We played good defense and I was real happy about that,” said Wheeler, whose Tigers have been plagued by inconsistent defense for much of the season.
Douglas hosts North Valleys in a 3:30 p.m. game Thursday to open an important three-game Sierra League series.