Glencoe defeats North Eugene 4-3
It was the best of times, it was…nearly the worst of times.
Glencoe's Nathan Sprenger took the mound in the seventh inning of the Tide's March 27 game against North Eugene with a 4-1 lead and having yet to relinquish a hit. But after a leadoff single ended the no-hit bid and sent the senior to the dugout to watch what he'd hoped would be a stress-free ride to victory, it quickly became something else.
Sprenger's relief walked the first two batters, allowed a hit, then survived an error and a nearly very costly mental error to hang-on for a 4-3 win at Hillsboro's Ron Tonkin Field.
In all, the Tide had four errors in the game, two of which led directly to runs.
"We didn't play good baseball today," said Glencoe head coach Tim Stewart. "I think defensively we were at our worst. We were able to make a lot of mistakes and get away with a win, so as a coach you feel good about that, but not super great about our performance in general."
Sprenger however was on. A second-team all-state catcher last season for the Tide, had command from the start, working fast and pitching to contact. The smooth throwing right-hander shut the Highlanders out through three, fell victim to a two-out error in the fourth that allowed North's first run, then survived the seventh to help the Tide improve to 4-3 on the year.
While an asset behind the dish, Sprenger's aptitude on the mound has forced Stewart and his coaching staff to get creative when seeking opportunities to get the senior on the bump.
"He has good stuff and probably the best stuff on the team, but with him being our catcher it's always tough to find the right equation to get him out on the mound," Stewart said. "But there's no question he can be a real valuable pitcher for us."
After two scoreless innings to start, Glencoe drew first blood in the third the old fashioned way. Joe Collins led-off with a walk, then after senior infielder Hunter Clayton sacrificed the junior to second, the Tide hit back-to-back singles en route to the game's first run. The Highlanders tied it in the top of the fourth when after two quick outs, consecutive Glencoe errors led to a 1-1 tie. But the Crimson Tide wasted little time regaining the lead, getting one run in the fifth and two in the sixth, the latter coming when Jacob Trasen tripled to start the inning and immediately scored on a subsequent wild pitch, and singles by Collins and Will Stephens made it a 4-1 game heading to the seventh.
Where things got interesting.
Following a lead-off single, Clayton – in relief of Sprenger – walked his first two batters, then a fielder's choice plated the first run of the inning and put runners on the corners. A quick single to right field made it 4-3, then Clayton got the second out swinging, but when the game appeared to end on another strikeout in the dirt, the Tide headed for the dugout while the Highlander batter took to first where he loaded the bases.
Thankfully for Glencoe Clayton got the next hitter to fly harmlessly out to seal the win, but a noticeably frustrated Stewart was left to explain his team's confusion afterwards.
"When the base is occupied with less than two outs you don't have to throw down, but there was two outs and we have to make that throw," the coach said after the game. "It was a good call by the umpire, but we ended up getting that fly ball to end it and we'll take the win.
"It was a strange situation because we ran Nathan out there because he had a no-hitter going, but we gave him one batter and then had to bring Hunter in, and he didn't really have much time to warm up."
Glencoe is next scheduled to play April 3 at 5 P.M in their Metro League opener at Jesuit.