Moments after John Holton’s pop-up dropped untouched behind first base and brought in the winning run, Carson Blue Jays coach Bryan Manoukian had a wry smile on his face and half of his face was covered by his hat. It appeared that he knew his team had escaped another loss.
“I never thought we were out of it,” said Manoukian, whose team rallied from a 9-3 deficit to win 11-10 over the Northwest Royals in nine innings Friday night at Ron McNutt Field. “I knew if we could get to their bullpen we had a chance.”
The win upped Carson’s record to 5-7 going into Sunday night’s (7 p.m.) home game against the Rebels.
The comeback started in the bottom of the seventh with Carson trailing by the aforementioned 9-3 score.
Chazz Nystrom walked and was forced at second by Holton. After Danny Guthrie fanned for the second out, Dustin Dutcher singled to center, the first of his two hits off the bench. A walk loaded the bases, and Gehrig Tucker’s infield single made it 9-4. T.J. Thomsen followed with a three-run double to left-centerfield to slice the lead to 9-7. Jace Zampirro made it 9-8 with a double off the fence in left, and after Chase Blueberg walked, Nystrom came up for the second time in the inning and delivered the game-tying single to center.
“A big hit by T.J. and a big hit by Jace,” Manoukian said.
Both teams went scoreless in the eighth, but action heated up in the ninth.
Guthrie cam on in relief to start the ninth and promptly hit the first batter he faced. After retiring the next two hitters, he walked Robbie Dalpe. Nate Gadsby slammed a single to left to score Jon Weethee with the go-ahead run to make it 10-9. Guthrie got the next hitter to quell the uprising.
Thomsen reached on an error to start the ninth. Zampirro walked and Blueberg followed with a single to right. The Royals’ outfielder threw the ball wildly back into the infield, allowing Thomsen to score the tying run. Nystrom, who reached base five straight times after a first-inning groundout, dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line and beat it out to load the bases. Up stepped Holton, who was 0-for-5 at that point. The sophomore-to-be lifted a pop-up behind first base. Both the first baseman and second baseman went for the ball and then both stopped, allowing the ball to drop untouched as Zampirro stormed home with the winning run.
It was Holton’s second huge contribution of the game. He threw 5.1 innings of scoreless relief after taking over for Joe Nelson in the third. He allowed five hits in that span and retired seven of the last eight batters he faced before turning the ball over to Guthrie.
“John came in and threw strikes,” Manoukian said. “He put up five straight zeros after their big inning (seven runs in the third). He gave us the long relief that we needed.
“We’re still leaving too many runners on (16 for the game and 31 in the last two games). You are going to struggle offensively when that happens. Fortunately, we got a couple of big hits.”
The Royals took a 2-0 lead in the first when Nelson walked three hitters and gave up singles to Robbie Dalpe and Nathan Gadsby. Carson scored an unearned run in the bottom of the inning when Tucker reached on an error and scored on Zampirro’s infield out.
The Royals struck for seven runs on six hits in the third, knocking Nelson from the box. Holton came in and allowed two of his five hits in the inning, both of which scored runs that were charged to Nelson. The Royals didn’t score again until the ninth.
Nystrom led Carson with three hits, while Dutcher, Tucker and Thomsen added two apiece.