Offense played a huge role on Tuesday, as Carson High’s baseball team opened the Spanish Springs Tournament with two victories at Ron McNutt Field.
Carson started with a 10-5 win over rival Douglas, and then came back to pound South Tahoe, 12-2, in a game called after 5.1 innings because of the 10-run rule. It’s the first time this season that Carson has scored more than 10 runs in two consecutive games.
The victories enabled Carson to reach the semifinals against Spanish Springs at 7 p.m. today at Ron McNutt Field with the winner advancing to the championship game. Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said he hasn’t decided on a starter for tonight. There will be four games at Carson today — 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
In the game against Douglas, both Manoukian and Douglas’ Bruce Jacobsen rested many of their starters. Carson played the entire game without T.J. Thomsen, Gehrig Tucker, Charlie Banfield, Luke Maher and Zak Harjes yet still managed to put up 11 hits against Douglas’ Cole Peck and Luke Romero.
“I wanted to give the kids who don’t get a chance to play a whole lot an opportunity to play the whole game,” Manoukian said. “I told the guys that unless somebody got hurt they weren’t going to play that first game. We put up 10 runs and 11 hits. I thought we did a really good job offensively.”
Jace Zampirro, Danny Guthrie and Chase Blueberg led the offense with two hits apiece. Blueberg hit a three-run homer and Casey Wolfe drove in three runs with a two-run double and infield out.
Consecutive doubled by Dusty Fisher and Kaleb Foster plus n error gave the Tigers an early 2-0 lead against starter Dustin Dutcher, but Carson battled back to tie the game at 2 on run-scoring singles by Cody Schmidlin and Nevin Elliott.
Andrew Bigham’s infield single made it 3-2 in the top of the second, but Carson took the lead for good at 6-3 with four runs off Peck in the second, three coming off Blueberg’s homer to left and Wolfe’s ground ball out.
Blueberg had been 2-for-7 with five strikeouts before going deep.
“Chase’s problems has been pitch selection,” Manoukian said. “He’s been swinging at fastballs over his head and curves in the dirt. Today, he made the pitchers pitch and didn’t help them.”
“Things are coming together,” Blueberg said. “I think the last homer I had was last summer at Galena. I’ve been struggling lately, and I’ve tried not to think about it.”
Carson made it 7-3 in the fourth when Dom Norton singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Zampirro’s infield out.
Dutcher departed in favor of Danny Guthrie, who was ineffective. Guthrie faced four batters without getting an out.
Jimmy King walked and Cale Kynett was hit by a pitch. Kyle Johnson followed with a run-scoring single to score King, but Kynett was thrown out at third. Joe Almeida followed with a double to score Johnson to make it 7-5. Wolfe came on to get the next two hitters to quell the uprising.
In fact, Wolfe only allowed one hit in 2.2 innings of relief, striking out four.
The Senators put the game out of reach with three more runs in the sixth off Romero. Wolfe doubled home two runs and then scored himself on a Zampirro single.
“It was nice to see Casey come in and throw strikes,” Manoukian said.
In the second game, Zampirro gave up two quick runs in the first on singles by South Tahoe’s Taylor Weik and Dominic Dianna plus a sacrifice fly by Taylor Sharp and two wild pitches. Zampirro settled down and retired 12 straight batters after Dianna’s bunt single. South Tahoe had just two hits after the first inning.
“Jace missed his last bullpen session because of a little back issue,” Manoukian said. “He was just rusty and he did settle down which I expected to happen.”
“I felt kind of rusty,” Zampirro said. “I hadn’t pitched in a while. It felt good to get back on the mound.”
Carson answered back with three of its own in the first on two South Tahoe errors, a walk, a passed ball and a run-scoring single by Tucker.
Zampirro left after reaching his 60-pitch limit in four innings, and Wolfe came on again. He allowed one hit, struck out three and walked one.
“I was surprised when I came in for the second game,” Wolfe said. “I definitely needed the work.”
“It was good to see Casey come in and have some success,” Manoukian said.
With a couple of four-game weeks coming up, the Senators will need Wolfe to take on a bigger role on the mound.
Carson added three in the fourth, two in the fifth and four in the sixth. Blueberg and Zampirro had run-scoring hits in the fourth and Maher doubled home two in the fifth after an error extended the inning. In the sixth, Wolfe had a two-run triple, and Norton and Tucker added run-scoring singles. It was Tucker’s single that ended the game.
“We did a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities they gave us,” Manoukian said. “They’re a better team (than they showed). They made a few costly errors. I was impressed with the way they came out and swung the bat in that first inning.”