MINDEN - It's no secret that timely hitting is a key element in baseball. Just consider the case of Douglas High School on Saturday.
The Tigers bunched together 14 hits and rode the compete-game pitching of Jared Silveira to a 14-4 six-inning victory in the first game of a critical Northern 4A doubleheader against Wooster. Douglas had 10 hits in game two, but never got anybody home against the pitching of Tony Biale as Wooster came back to take a 7-0 victory.
Douglas, 13-11 in conference (14-11 overall) was tied for fifth-place with Fallon and Wooster coming into the day. Fallon (14-10) swept a doubleheader from Hug to secure the No. 5 seed for the Northern 4A zone tournament, Douglas will be No. 6, Wooster (13-11) is No. 7 and Sparks (10-14) No. 8.
Reno (21-3) is the No. 1 seed, Galena (20-4) is No. 2, Carson (16-8) is No. 3 and McQueen (16-8) is No. 4 coming into the tournament, which begins May 3 in Carson City.
The Tigers should have no complaints, considering they began the season by losing six of their first eight games.
"We've won 12 out of our last 17 games, so yes, we have come a long way," Douglas coach Fred Bendure said. "Most of the kids on this team are young and with limited experience. Our first goal for this season was to make the playoffs, and now we've done that."
Douglas has won four of its last five, including wins over Fallon and Sparks - teams that are headed to the playoffs.
"We started to come together as a team," said senior second baseman Richard French, who hit 5-for-9 in the two games. "We're all friends off the field, now we're getting to where we know each other better on the field. We've been hitting the ball; we hit in both games today, we just didn't get the hits when we needed them in the second game."
After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning of game one, the Tigers answered with five runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, aided by three infield hits and two bases-loaded walks. Adam Shelton's two-run single up the middle was the only ball to leave the infield during the rally.
Douglas put the game away with six runs on four hits in the sixth, highlighted by Chris Murray's two-run home run. The final shot - a sharp base bases-loaded hit by French that got past the left fielder - brought three runs home and gave Douglas its 10-run margin of victory. French was 3-for-5 in the first game.
Silveira allowed two walks in the first inning, both of which scored, but he was never in serious trouble after that. The Sonoma State University-bound right-hander allowed five hits, struck out seven, walked four and retired 12 of the last 15 batters he faced. Silveira was at his best in the sixth, when he struck out the side.
Wooster made the most of its six hits in game two, including Sean O'Daye's two-run homer in the fifth inning, to win game two. Biale allowed 10 hits, all singles, to go with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Douglas hosts Mammoth on Wednesday in a non-conference game that will serve as its final tune-up before the zone tournament.
"We're pumped," French said. "If we play like we have been lately, I think we're going to pop out of nowhere and surprise some teams."
Carson finished tied for third place when McQueen split its doubleheader against Lowry on Saturday in Winnemucca. Lowry scored 12 runs in the fifth inning to rally for a 16-13 win in game one, then McQueen won the second game 12-2.
Carson and McQueen finished conference with identical 16-8 records, but the Senators were awarded the No. 3 seed by virtue of their tie-breaker advantage - a regular season win over No. 2 Galena.
Manogue swept a 3A Division II doubleheader at home against Whittell Saturday in Reno, 4-0 and 11-1.