RENO — Take away the third inning, and Thursday’s Damonte-Carson baseball game was a pretty good one.
Unfortunately for the Senators, that five-run third inning proved to be their undoing in a 10-3 loss to the Mustangs in a Northern Division I battle.
The loss dropped Carson to 3-2 in league play while Damonte improved to 3-2. The teams meet again Saturday at 11 a.m. at Ron McNutt Field.
Damonte had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Jacob Applebach doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jon Damon.
The game went south for Carson in the third.
Matt Barrett and Casey McQueary singled off Dustin Dutcher. Grant Goff bunted, and instead of getting the out at first baseman Jace Zampirro tried to force Barrett at third. Third baseman Chazz Nystrom was still trying to get back to the bag, and Zampirro’s throw sailed over his head, allowing both runners to score. Goff went to third on Andy Calihgaert’s fly to center. Billy Damon walked and then Daniel Page cleared the bases with a 3-run homer to left-centerfield to make it 6-0. Dutcher retired the next two hitters to end the inning.
“That (bunt) play was the difference in the game,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “That gave them momentum. Somebody yelled third. We were going for the out at first. You have to take the outs when they are going to give them to you.”
“That got the ball rolling,” Damonte coach Jon Polson said. “We scored two on that play. It gave us a little bit of energy. We hadn’t been scoring much; hadn’t been scoring runs. That helped our psyche.”
Tyler Oscarson, who struck out five of the first six batters he faced and seven for the game, gave up a run-scoring double to Gehrig Tucker, but Damonte added two in the fourth to make it 8-1 on a walk, hit batsman, a wild pitch and a double by Goff, which chased Dutcher. Danny Guthrie got the last two outs of the inning.
“Dustin pitched well in spots,” Manoukian said. “We made some mistakes and they made us pay. He is still improving, and I thought he threw better today than he did against North Valleys.”
Carson scored its final runs of the game in the fifth thanks to singles by Nystrom, Guthrie and Pongasi, the latter hit scoring a run. A wild pitch accounted for the second run of the inning off Oscarson.
“I thought Tyler did a good job,” Polson said. “He gave up that lead-off double and settled down and I think he had five punchouts in a row after that.”
Damonte scored twice in the sixth, though Guthrie should have gotten out of the inning unscathed.
After retiring the first two hitters, Guthrie plunked Calingaert. Billy Damon followed with a fly ball down the line in left. Tucker drifted over and was calling the ball the entire way. The trouble is left fielder Joe Nelson didn’t see or hear him. The ball hit one of their gloves, but Tucker fell to the ground after Nelson ran into him. Calingaert scored on the play and Damon made it to second.
“They both called for it,” Manoukian said. “I don’t think they heard each other. It was an unfortunate thing. We work on that (communication) in practice.”
Damon eventually scored when Page hit a ball to deep third. Page had the ball beat out, and Nystrom airmailed the throw over Zampirro’s head at first, allowing Damon to score.
Manoukian was pleased with the relief effort by Guthrie.
“I thought Danny did a fantastic job,” Manoukian said. “He hit his spots for the most part and kept the ball down.”