Jace Zampirro and Gehrig Tucker are expected to be key contributors to Carson High's baseball team this year, and in Thursday's season-opener against Elko they came up big.
Zampirro scattered five hits over six innings of work, and Tucker reached base twice and scored both of Carson's runs in the 2-1 victory over the Indians at Ron McNutt Field in the debut of coach Bryan Manoukian.
Carson returns to action today at Reed High School. The Senators meet Fallon at 11 a.m. and then play Reed at 1:30 p.m. Tyler Valley and Chase Blueberg will start on the mound for the Senators.
Manoukian was ecstatic about Zampirro's 82-pitch performance, which included five strikeouts and zero walks, which is pretty impressive at any point in the season let alone a first start of the new year.
"I thought he was fantastic," Manoukian said. "Their kid (Dalton Ridgway) was equally impressive. Jace was about seven pitches over (75-pitch count), but he didn't get tired; his body didn't look tired. He wanted to finish the inning.
"Gehrig had a great leadoff game. He did his job and guys moved him over and Luke (Maher) got him home and then Cody Schmidlin came up and drove in the go-head run in the fifth."
Other than the third inning when Elko scored its only run, Zampirro allowed only two runners to reach third base.
"I felt good," Zampirro said. "I felt a little rusty (early), but after I got out of the first inning I felt good. My circle change and fastball were my two best pitches. I worked on the change a lot in the off-season and it paid off."
Zampirro got some quick support in the first when Tucker doubled, moved to third on TJ Thomsen's infield out and scored on Maher's infield groundball.
Elko tied the game in the third when Joe Bejarano singled, but was forced at second by Chad Schumacher. After Zampirro struck out Cody Kerns, Phil Benevides delivered a run-scoring single.
Carson had a chance to go ahead in the fourth, but came up empty and had a player ejected in the process.
Maher walked and moved to second when Blueberg was plunked with a pitch. Casey Wolfe tried to bunt the runners along, but popped out to the catcher. Charlie Banfield followed with a bouncer up the middle. Elko shortstop Justin Pete fielded the ball behind the bag. Maher tried to score from second base. Pete's throw beat Maher by a wide margin. Maher didn't slide and actually jarred the ball loose, but was called out for not sliding and disqualified from the game. His action negated the run.
"Coach (Chad) Eaton and I were surprised that their kid got to the ball," Manoukian said. "Chad had already waved him home, and when he realized that the kid fielded the ball, Luke had his head down and we couldn't stop him.
"I don't particularly like that rule, but the umpire enforced it correctly and made the right call. I'm not upset. I was yelling at Luke to slide. Twenty years ago that's a great play. That kind of screwed things up because I was going to use Cody to relieve."
Carson managed to scratch out a run in the fifth, and once again Tucker was key.
The Carson lead-off man walked with two outs and scored on Schmidlin's two-out single off Ridgway, who allowed five hits in six innings of work.
"I can't remember not hitting lead-off," said Tucker. "I just try to get on base and look at pitches for the other guys."
Tucker, who had a flawless game in the field, made the defensive play of the game in the sixth.
With two outs and a runner at first, Jacob Conklin lifted a shallow flyball to left. Tucker drifted out and made a difficult catch to end the inning. He made nine plays without an error, five assists and four put-outs.
Dominic Norton came on in the seventh, and despite walking two batters, closed the door on the Indians to pick up the save.