Douglas High School coach Fred Bendure knew he was setting himself up for a merciless rash of second-guessing when he started pitcher Kyle Wentz instead of Jared Silveira against Fallon on Friday in the first round of the Northern 4A zone baseball tournament at McNutt Field.
The move worked to perfection, however, when Wentz turned in another gutsy performance on the mound, spreading seven hits over seven innings to lead the Tigers to a 2-1 win over the Greenwave.
Bendure said he had been confident Wentz could beat Fallon. And when the senior made his coach look like a genius, it meant that the Tigers (16-11) will be able to start their ace, Silveira, today in the second round against regular season champion Reno, a 10-0 victor against Reed on Friday. That game is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at Carson.
"I was sweating it," Bendure said while laughing after watching Fallon get a runner to third base in the bottom of the seventh inning. "The thing is, Kyle really has been pitching well. I knew he'd be tough against Fallon because he keeps the ball down.
"This was probably the best game he's pitched all year. And he's pitched some fine games."
The complete-game victory was the fourth of the season for Wentz, who seemed to get stronger as the game went on. Wentz mixed his pitches and locations effectively early in the game. In the later innings, he was able to sneak his fastball past hitters who were looking for the off-speed stuff.
"I was really pumped," Wentz said. "I knew we could do this. Knowing that we're going to advance and that we saved Jared for Reno is great. Jared's a guy who can take us a long way in this tournament."
Fallon managed to get four runners into scoring position and had 10 hitters reach base safely, but Wentz never was rattled.
"One of my strong points is my ability to stay focused," Wentz said. "I have one of the best defenses in the league behind me and we always hit the ball, so I don't have to worry about that."
Freshman Austin Graham collected the game-winning RBI with a solo home run to deep right-center field in the top of the fifth inning. Graham scored the Tigers' first run in the third inning on a double off the bat of Wentz, who hit the ball so hard that it actually broke a board in the fence near the right-field foul pole.
Douglas didn't commit an error against Fallon. And several Tigers made great plays to keep the Greenwave off the scoreboard into the sixth inning.
Silveira made a nice play on a pop foul at first base in the first inning.
Second baseman Rich French turned a 4-3 double play in the second inning. And shortstop Shane Cauley ended the inning by making a tough stop in the hole and then gunning the speedy Kenny Galbraith at first.
Third baseman Adam Sheldon ended the fifth inning by snaring a screaming line drive off the bat of Tony Gullien.
And right fielder Jordan Ovard made perfect reads on back-to-back fly balls to end the game.
Reno's Adam Colton will oppose Douglas' Jared Silveira on the mound today.