After two lopsided losses, Carson High’s baseball team bounced back with a decisive victory of its own.
Gehrig Tucker and Brandon Allen stroked three hits each, Chase Blueberg drove in four runs and Dustin Dutcher threw five innings of five-hit ball as Carson rolled to an 11-1 mercy rule win over McQueen Tuesday night at Ron McNutt Field.
Carson improved to 7-6 in Northern Division I play. The teams collide again at 3:45 p.m. Thursday at McQueen.
“It’s nice to get a win for sure,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “Hitting hasn’t been our problem this year. We’ve scored a lot of runs. Our problem has been pitching. We’ve played OK defensively. We got a good effort from Dustin, which is what we needed. He kept his walks (none, but he hit one batter) minimal and kept the ball down.”
Other than the third-inning run, Dutcher had to work out of first-and-third jams in the second and fourth. The lefty struck out two batters and hit one before turning the ball over to John Holton, who pitched a scoreless sixth.
“I thought I pitched pretty well against North Valleys (two wins vs. Panthers this year),” Dutcher said. “My pitches were probably a little better today. The defense did a great job behind me. I just let them make the plays.”
Carson staked Dutcher to an early 3-0 lead when Josiah Pongasi walked and Dom Norton reached on a bunt single. Tucker followed with a bouncer up the middle that got into centerfield. Pongasi scored on the play; Norton stopped at second. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, and Blueberg followed with a liner to right. Conner Thomas made a diving catch, and Norton trotted home with the second run.
Jace Zampirro laced a double to deep right to score Tucker with the final run of the inning. Brandon Allen followed with an infield single, but Randy Hutton fanned Joe Runge to end the uprising.
McQueen scored its only run in the third inning when Jon Weethee doubled, advanced to third and scored on Thomas’ sacrifice fly to deep right to make it 3-1.
Tucker singled to open the fourth and eventually scored after a sacrifice by TJ Thomsen and an infield out by Blueberg. Zampirro followed with a triple and then scored on a single by Allen, who went 3-for-3, to make it 5-1.
After working out of a jam in the top of the fourth, Dutcher’s teammates put the game out of reach with four in the fourth for a 9-1 lead.
Dutcher opened the inning with a single, moved to third on a double to left-centerfield by Pongasi and scored on a sacrifice fly by Norton. After Tucker was retired by reliever Brad Ball, Thomsen reached on an error that scored Pongasi. Blueberg capped the rally with a towering homer to left. It was his second round-tripper in three games, and he knew it when it came off the bat.
“I knew I hit it (well),” Blueberg said. “I just put my head down. He threw me a slider, which was the same pitch he threw when I hit the (long) foul ball. The ball just hung in the middle. It didn’t break at all.”
Blueberg admitted he would have liked having a couple of more hits, but he said he was happy his contact produced runs.
After Holton breezed through the sixth, Carson quickly scored two in the bottom of the sixth to end the game.
Norton singled to left, and Tucker followed with a walk-off homer, his second round-tripper in as many games. He is 8-for-10 in his last three games.
NOTES: Only one spot in the order failed to produce a hit ... There was a moment of silence prior to the game for CHS math instructor Deb Elder, who passed away over the weekend while visiting family in Arizona ... Carson is sitting in sixth or seventh place pending Damonte Ranch’s latest result. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs. The last couple of rounds of the regional playoffs will be at Peccole Park, and state also will be at Peccole.