When the Carson Blue Jays took the field Tuesday afternoon, coach Bryan Manoukian was already looking ahead to the upcoming four-day tournament at Bishop Manogue, and he'll have that same mindset tonight at Douglas.
"I'm treating these two games as bullpens for my pitchers," Manoukian said after Carson's 10-4 loss to the Reno Knights. "I'm going to do the same thing against Douglas. We'll throw everybody an inning.
"We're on strict pitch counts. That's why I took Chase (Blueberg) out with two outs in the inning. He had thrown 55 pitches. I need him to start a game this weekend. It's why I took out Casey (Wolfe). He threw real well (retired nine straight)."
Wolfe was effective for his second straight outing, retiring all nine batters he faced. He fanned two and didn't walk a batter. In his last 10 innings, he's allowed just three hits and no walks.
"Casey is pitching really well right now," Manoukian said. "He's been working hard on his mechanics; staying tall and getting through the ball."
When Wolfe exited, he was on the right side of a 1-0 score thanks to Gehrig Tucker's sacrifice fly to right, which scored Dustin Dutcher who led off the second with a single.
Simply put, the margin should have been more. The Blue Jays left two on in the first, two in the second and three in the third. In each of the first three innings, Carson failed to come up with a clutch hit. All told, Carson stranded 15 baserunners in the nine-inning contest.
Charlie Banfield came on in the fourth, and was greeted by back-to-back singles by Garrett Hampson and Joey Clark. Kevin Wallace dropped down a bunt, and Banfield threw the ball into right field which scored two runs and gave the Knights a 2-1 lead. Wallace made it all the way around to third on the play and scored on Graham Macmillan's infield out to make it 3-1.
Carson matched that three with three of its own for a 4-3 lead and knocked Dan Hickox-Young out of the game. Adam Leinert came on in relief
Tucker reached on a one-out error and moved to second on a single by TJ Thomsen and scored on a double by Luke Maher. Nevin Elliott walked to load the bases. Jace Zampirro and Blueberg drove in run with infield outs.
Reno touched Banfield for two earned runs in the top of the sixth to take a 5-4 lead thanks to a passed ball and a sacrifice fly by Chip Bouchard.
Leinert made that lead stand up. He threw 4-plus innings of relief, allowing just four hits and one run. Carson got only one baserunner past second against him.
The score remained 5-4 until the ninth when Reno sent 11 batters to the plate against Blueberg and Danny Guthrie. A double error by Maher at third base got the inning off to a rocky start for the Blue Jays, who fell to 5-12.
"It's a 5-4 game after eight," Manoukian said. "We're getting better even though our record doesn't reflect that. I know the kids are tired of losing. They are getting better. Hopefully, it's going to pay off in the spring."