MINDEN — Jace Zampirro knew he had made good contact on the ball. It just took a moment or two before he realized how good.
All the Carson High School senior did was clear the left-center field fence for a two-out, two-run home run in the fifth inning Wednesday that gave the Senators a lead they never relinquished en route to a 7-2 Northern Division I victory against Douglas.
Zampirro’s blast put Carson (13-16 overall, 9-12 league) on top 3-1 and freshman Bryce Moyle earned a save in his first varsity appearance to defeat Douglas (16-10, 12-9) to spoil Douglas’ Senior Day at Tiger Field.
“It felt like I got jammed a little bit; I knew I had hit it good, but I didn’t think it was going out,” Zampirro said. “That was just exciting to get a hit like that to give our team the lead.”
Even though both teams had clinched playoff berths — Carson is locked into the No. 8 seed — records don’t matter when these arch rivals get together.
“I don’t think records ever matter when these two schools get together, no matter what the sport,” said Carson coach Bryan Manoukian, whose club ended a six-game losing streak.
Douglas coach Bruce Jacobsen echoed those words.
“Records don’t matter; anything can happen,” he said. “They’ve had a tough run lately, but they’re a good team. They’re talented, they’re well-coached, they played hard and just came in and put it to us. We played hard, too. We just didn’t make a couple of plays or get the timely hits when we needed them.”
With the score tied 1-1, Carson’s Gehrig Tucker hit a leadoff single and Zampirro hit an inside pitch high drive over the 370-foot sign in left-center field — a shot that hit off the high school’s agriculture hot house and bounced back on the field.
The Tigers had a golden opportunity to answer in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kaleb Foster lined a single to right and scored with two outs when Matt Santos blasted a 1-2 pitch for a double off the left field fence to make it 3-2. Then Kyle Johnson walked and Davies reached base on an error to load the bases before Moyle came on to pitch in relief of starter Chase Blueberg. Parker Dixon worked the count full and fouled off one pitch before Moyle rang up a called strike-three on an inside pitch for the third out.
“Bases loaded, two outs and he throws a curveball on 3-2 … it was a big pitch by that guy,” Jacobsen said.
Moyle proved he is ready for varsity ball.
“That was a big-time pitch,” Manoukian said. “He showed a lot of moxie, that he is fearless, and that’s what you want in a relief pitcher.”
The Senators added four insurance runs in the sixth. Brandon Allen reached base when his bunt was misplayed on an error, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on John Holton’s single to right field. T.J. Thomsen doubled down the left field line, Tucker drove a two-strike pitch for a two-run double and Blueberg tripled into the right-center field gap to make it 7-2.
Carson took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Tucker drew a leadoff walk, Blueberg singled with one out and Zampirro lined an RBI single to right field.
Douglas tied the score in the third when Cale Kynett lined a one-out double to center field and scored when Dillon Lopez lined a single just over the glove of a leaping Carson second baseman Josiah Pongasi for an RBI single.
Blueberg hit 3-for-4 with two RBI, Zampirro 2-for-3 with three RBI and one sacrifice bunt, and Tucker 2-for-3 with three runs scored to lead Carson’s 12-hit attack.
Kaleb Foster hit 2-for-3 and Santos 2-for-3 to lead the Tigers, who finished with six hits.
Kyle Johnson started on the mound for Douglas and worked into the sixth inning before giving way to Zach Davies.
“This was a big win,” Zampirro said. “Douglas is a good team; tomorrow is going to be another good game.”
Carson will celebrate its Senior Day game tonight in a 7 p.m. game against Douglas at Ron McNutt Field.