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Foothill’s late rally lifts Cougars past Red Bluff 10-6

Trailing by four in the sixth, without a hit in three innings and star pitcher Dustin Niles chased an inning earlier, the Cougars appeared dead in the water.

Foothill’s Tyler Muszanowski tags out Red Bluff’s Anthony Strole trying to steal second base during Tuesday night’s Eastern Athletic League game at Foothill High School. The Cougars won 10-6 on senior night. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

PALO CEDRO – Trailing by four in the sixth, without a hit in three innings and star pitcher Dustin Niles chased an inning earlier, the Cougars appeared dead in the water.

But sometimes all you need is a sliver of hope and some magic on senior night to muster a comeback.

Foothill rallied with an eight-run bottom half of the sixth, highlighted by Luke Lindsey’s go-ahead two-run single up the middle and Stephen Nelson shut the door on visiting Red Bluff with a perfect seventh to walk away with a 10-6 victory Tuesday night in the Redding Rancheria Game of the Week.

“This is a different team than who (Red Bluff) saw early in the year,” said Foothill coach Todd Buck. “That team might have folded up. But you could feel we weren’t going to lose this game.”

Foothill drew three straight walks in the sixth, the last being a bases-loaded walk by Chris Jacobsen to bring home Andrew Dias. Chase Rossman followed with an RBI single and Lindsey’s hard-hit grounder up the middle plated two to give Foothill the lead for good.

“This has been something on the season where we lost command of the strike zone, pitching behind in counts and walking batters and then things go the other teams’ way,” said Red Bluff coach Ryland Sanders. “They were sitting on pitches and we gave them the opportunities they needed and they took advantage.”

Foothill got to starter Giovanni Caldera early, scoring two on RBI singles from Nelson and Tyler Muszanowski before stranding the bases loaded when Trevor Kinsworthy relieved Caldera with two outs. From that point on, the Cougars couldn’t lock-in on Kinsworthy. He retired six straight and issued a walk in the fourth and fifth innings but the runner never reached second.

Red Bluff’s Trevor Kinsworthy pitches against Foothill Tuesday night. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

In that time, the Spartans tied it at two with runs scoring on errors in the fourth and added four in the fifth, highlighted by Tanner Tweedt’s RBI single and an error scored two more for a 6-2 lead. Only one of the runs given up by Foothill starter Niles were earned. He finished with a no decision, striking out six, walking three and giving up three hits in five frames.

Once Foothill settled down and stayed patient at the plate to get a favorable count, the momentum shifted.

Cooke flew out to start the sixth but Foothill’s next eight batters reached base and scored – all on one out. Muszanowski had an RBI double and Dias and Parker Morrison drew back-to-back walks to load the bases, forcing Sanders to make a pitching change to Tristen Hobart. He walked Jacobsen for a run, Rossman and Lindsey singled in runs, two more came across on Hobart’s throwing error and Cooke’s two-run single completed the unraveling from the Spartans.

“The kids are just relaxed right now, we’re starting to play consistent baseball and it’s starting to show,” Buck said.

Nelson sent down the top of the Red Bluff lineup in order with two pop outs to left before freezing Tanner Tweedt to end it.

Blake Tweedt was 2 for 3 with an RBI and two runs and Caldera was 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs as the Spartans totaled five hits.

Foothill’s 5-6-7 hitters each had a pair of hits with Cooke going 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs, Nelson going 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI and two runs, and Muszanowski going 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

Red Bluff has the No. 2 seed in the Division I playoffs locked up, earning a first-round bye with Eastern Athletic League champion Pleasant Valley. Foothill is expected to get the No. 3 seed and host a quarterfinal playoff game.

Foothill’s Dustin Niles fires a pitch against Red Bluff Tuesday night. Foothill won 10-6. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

EAL Standings
Team EAL, Overall

Pleasant Valley 12-1, 20-3
Red Bluff 10-5, 16-9
Foothill 8-5, 17-8
Shasta 7-8, 12-9-1
Chico 4-11, 9-12
Enterprise 2-13, 10-16

T.J. is a national-award winning journalist passionate about local news and telling the story no one else knows about. He’s roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010 and is a content producer from sunup to sundown. Sports are a hobby he shares with his wife Tracy where they’ve spent many dates around a field or court of some sort.

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