For the second straight day, Carson High’s youngest player saved the day.
Freshman left-hander Bryce Moyle got the dangerous Matt Santos to ground into an inning-ending double play in the top of the sixth and then retired the Tigers in order in the seventh to earn the win in Carson’s season-ending 4-3 Senior Night victory Thursday at Ron McNutt Field.
Carson, 10-12 in the regular season, opens the Division I playoffs Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. at first-place Reno.
Moyle, who worked 2 1/3 innings in the win over the Tigers on Wednesday, showed poise beyond his years on Thursday.
He relieved Danny Guthrie with one out and runners on first and second in the top of the sixth with the score tied at 3. Dillon Lopez hit a hard groundball which handcuffed first baseman Jace Zampirro, and Moyle was a bit late getting over to cover first. The error loaded the bases. Up stepped Santos, whose groundball to short started a 6-4-3 double play.
Moyle’s teammates rewarded his effort by scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth against tough-luck loser Cole Peck.
After retiring the first two hitters, Brandon Allen singled and was balked to second. Allen scored when Lopez threw wildly to first on John Holton’s groundball up the middle which gave CHS a 4-3 lead. Moyle retired three straight to end the game.
“I’ve been nervous,” said Moyle, who was on the JV squad until this week. “I thought more about trying to win the game for the seniors in their last home game. I wanted to win the game. I just tried to get ahead and make them hit the ball on the ground. I knew I had a good defense behind me. When he (Santos) hit the ball I was pretty confident we’d get the double play.”
Carson coach Bryan Manoukian had no qualms about bringing his young pitcher in for the second straight day.
“I wasn’t worried,” Manoukian said. “He only threw 22 pitches Wednesday. He started on the JV team, so he’s used to high pitch counts. It was like a long bullpen. He threw real well.
“That was a fantastic baseball game. The atmosphere was charged. It’s a rivalry game, and guys love to play in games like that. I have the utmost respect for Douglas and its coaching staff and players.”
It was a disappointing game for the Tigers, who left 10 runners on. Three times the Tigers left the bases loaded — in the first fifth and sixth innings.
“Carson played well,” said DHS coach Bruce Jacobsen. “Cole pitched well and deserved to win. When you look back at this game, there were 15 different things we could have done and would have had a different outcome. We left the bases loaded a few times. We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed it. He (Moyle) is going to have a nice little career.”
The Tigers struck first against CHS senior starter Dustin Dutcher, who worked the first 4 1/3 innings.
Caleb Foster was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a single by Cale Kynett. Lopez walked to load the bases. Santos struck out and Kyle Johnson flied out to short right. Zach Davies followed with an infield single between third and short to score Foster. Peck was retired, and it was a true moral victory for the Senators to escape just down 1-0.
The Senators made it 2-1 when Gehrig Tucker doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Chase Blueberg’s infield out. Zampirro singled and then scored on Dom Norton’s deep double to center.
The Tigers evened the score at 2 in the third on a single by Santos. Carson went up 3-2 when power-hitting Chase Blueberg homered to left.
The Tigers tied the game in the fifth.
With one out, Lopez walked and scored on a Santos double. Exit Dutcher, enter Guthrie. Kyle Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in the tying run. Davies walked and Peck singled, but Guthrie got Dusten Plante on a liner to first to end the threat.
Manoukian was ecstatic about Dutcher’s final home appearance.
“He’s probably the most improved player we’ve had in our program,” Manoukian said. “For him to come out on Senior Night and battle the way he did; give us a chance to win. I couldn’t be more prouder.”
That set the stage for Moyle’s heroics in the sixth and the key two-out error that put the Senators ahead to stay.
NOTE: Seniors had a nice night for Carson. T.J. Thomsen went 2-for-3, while Tucker, Blueberg Norton and Zampirro had a hit each ... The game was chippy, and the umpires sent plenty of time talking to both coaching staffs ... Assistant coach Chad Eaton was ejected in the fourth after pinch-runner Cody Azevedo was called out at home despite the fact it looked like he’d gotten under Foster’s tag ... Kynett and Santos had two hit each for the Tigers.