There was good news and bad news out of Ron McNutt Field on Thursday night.
The bad news was that the Carson Senators were mercy ruled 14-3 and swept by the Manogue Miners. The good news is that McQueen lost again to Spanish Springs and remains three games behind the Senators with four games left in the regular season.
With four games left, Carson is 7-11 and three games ahead of McQueen in the win column. Carson has a tougher finishing schedule with two games versus Spanish Springs on Saturday (starting at 11 a.m.) and two against Douglas (Wednesday and Thursday). The Lancers play Wooster in a doubleheader on Saturday and then finish with North Valleys. If the Lancers sweep and Carson gets swept, the Senators would likely be out of the playoffs.
Carson enters Saturday’s doubleheader with Chase Blueberg and Jace Zampirro as the starting pitchers, according to coach Bryan Manoukian. The Senators’ first-year head coach said that the late-season doubleheaders have forced all the teams to juggle their staffs a little bit. Both Zampirro and Blueberg last pitched on Saturday in the doubleheader loss to Reno.
Manoukian used six pitchers against the hard-hitting Miners — Brandon Allen, Chazz Nystrom, Cody Schmidlin, Danny Guthrie, Dustin Dutcher and Zak Harjes. Only Harjes escaped unscathed as he threw two-thirds of an inning to close out the fifth. Two errors led to six unearned runs during the contest.
The Senators tried to go by committee, and it unfortunately failed. The Senators’ team ERA took a beating in two games, as Manogue scored 27 runs on 35 hits in just 10 innings over the course of two games.
“They are a really good hitting team,” Manoukian said. “We only held them scoreless in one at-bat in two games, and when you do that you aren’t going to win games. This was a good experience for our relievers. If we get to the postseason, they are going to have to come in and get people out. We made a change pretty much whenever they turned the order over and it didn’t work.”
Obviously Manoukian was thinking that different looks might slow down the Manogue hitters, but it didn’t.
The Miners touched Allen for three first-inning runs on singles by M. J. Farthing and Kyle Pruneau plus a two-run double by Harrison Shawa. Farthing has been on a tear. He went 9-for-9 in the series and is 13 for his last 17 over a span of four games.
Manogue added a run in the top of the second on consecutive singles by Kyle Lewis, Farthing and Pruneau, who finished with nine RBIs in the series.
Carson scored an unearned run off Manogue ace Devonte German in the second when Luke Maher walked, advanced to third when Charlie Banfield’s groundball was misplayed by first baseman Patrick Hinojosa and scored on Harjes’ infield roller to make it 4-1.
Nystrom, who gave up a run in the second, yielded four unearned runs in the third to make it 8-1 before being relieved by Schmidlin with two outs. Two sacrifice flies, a single by Lewis and one by Farthing accounted for the scores. Schmidlin gave up two unearned run in the fifth as the Miners padded their lead to 10-1.
The Senators nicked German for two scores in the fifth on a single by Zampirro.
“Jace was huge (with that hit),” Manoukian said. “Today at least we answered. I thought it was a better team effort today.”
German left after five innings, and his performance in front of a couple of scouts wasn’t overly impressive. He struck out six and walked five.
“He struggled with his control,” Manogue coach Charles Oppio said. “I think he got out of his comfort zone.”