RENO — One would be hard pressed to find a dry eye among the Carson High baseball team as it walked in following Wednesday’s final post-game meeting of the season.
Damonte Ranch scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh — three coming on a homer by Billy Damon and the game-winner on a single by Nels Ahnlund — to knock off Carson, 14-13, in an elimination game of the Northern Division I playoffs at Damonte.
The contest, which took more than three hours to play, featured 27 runs, 32 hits, six lead changes, nine pitchers used by both teams combined and a controversial balk call in the seventh that helped set up Damonte’s game-winning run.
The loss left Carson with an overall record of 14-19, identical to its record of a year ago.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of,” coach Bryan Manoukian said. “I’m proud of the way we came back all day. We were behind multiple times and kept coming back. We left it all on the field.
“In a 14-13 game I don’t know that any one play was more important than the other.”
The balk call on reliever Gehrig Tucker was right up there, however.
Carson had taken a 13-10 lead in the seventh thanks to two big Damonte errors.
Brandon Allen led off the seventh with a walk. He raced around to third when the Damonte first baseman, after a pick-off attempt, threw the ball over the head of pitcher Zac Ukitis. Allen easily reached second and broke for third when he noticed nobody was covering. The throw into third was low, and Allen was able to tip-toe past the fielder into third base. After pinch-hitter Terek Been struck out looking, T.J. Thomsen singled home Allen, tying the game at 10. Thomsen raced around to third on a wild Ukitis pick-off attempt and scored on Tucker’s sacrifice fly to make it 11-10.
Josiah Pongasi re-started the inning with a single and advanced to second on a one-bagger by Chase Blueberg. Pongasi stole third and scored on a double to left by Jace Zampirro. Blueberg moved to third on the double and scored when reliever Tyler Oscarson uncorked a wild pitch on an 0-2 count. Zampirro moved to third on the wild pitch and Dom Norton was walked intentionally. Jace Keema struck out looking to end the inning.
That set the stage for the ill-fated bottom of the seventh.
Zampirro walked Grant Goff and yielded a single to Daniel Page. Damon followed with the game-tying three-run homer over the fence in left-centerfield. Manoukian brought in Tucker, who promptly retired Andy Calingaert on a groundball. Casey McQueary followed with a groundball over second base and then stole second, the Mustangs’ fifth stolen base of the game. Tucker was then called for a balk, which prompted an argument from Manoukian and a discussion between the umpires.
“The umpires said that Gehrig came onto the mound in the stretch position with his hands already together,” Manoukian said when asked about his discussion with the umpiring crew. “The batter had called timeout. I don’t remember them saying the ball was in play or that time was no longer out, but they said they did.”
With the infield pulled in, Jonny Damon grounded to Pongasi at short, who looked McQueary back and made the throw to first. Ahnlund followed with a ball that eluded the reach of Pongasi to score the winning run and kept the Mustangs’ season alive much to the chagrin of the stunned Senators.
“That was a crazy, crazy game,” said Jon Polson, Damonte head coach. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been involved in a game like that. I’ve been on the other side of games like that too many times. Carson battled their tails off.”
That wasn’t the only controversial call.
With Carson leading 7-6 in the bottom of the third, freshman Bryce Moyle threw a breaking ball to Austin Hoggatt with one out and runners at second and third. Hoggatt leaned into the pitch with his shoulder, and plate umpire Billy Martin called him out because he (Martin) felt the ball was in the strike zone when it struck Hoggatt. Moyle hit the next batter, but escaped the third unscathed and the lead intact.
A two-run single by Jonny Damon gave the Mustangs a 8-7 lead after four, but Carson went on top 9-8 on a Tucker single and an error. McQueary and Ahnlund delivered run-scoring hits in the sixth to give Damonte a 10-9 lead, setting the stage for a wild seventh inning that saw the teams combined for eight runs.
GALENA 12, DOUGLAS 5
RENO — Galena scored eight runs in the opening three innings Wednesday afternoon to build an early lead en route to a Northern Division I Region Tournament victory against Douglas.
Douglas (17-12) faces Damonte Ranch today at 1 p.m. in an elimination game at the University of Nevada’s Peccole Park.
Douglas had nine hits in the game, led by Matt Santos and Kyle Johnson with two each. The Tigers stranded 10 base runners.