RENO — Carson High finished its preseason slate with a 3-2 record, but the Senators need to improve in many areas as it starts the Division I season with a home game against North Valleys at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In five contests at the Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament, Carson was outscored 49-38. Twice Carson needed walk-off hits to beat Division 1A teams, South Tahoe and Lowry, and twice Carson was run-ruled (Reno and Damonte Ranch). Simply put, Carson beat the teams it expected to beat, and lost to the teams it needs to beat if it wants to be an upper-echelon team.
Carson started Saturday with a 12-11 win over Lowry, and ended it with a 15-5 five-inning loss to Damonte Ranch.
“There are a lot of things we need to do before the league season starts,” coach Bryan Manoukian said. “We need to execute on our bunts and bunt defense. We are throwing strikes. I don’t think we’ve walked a bunch of hitters in a row. We have to figure out how to make the out pitches. We need to pitch better with two strikes; locate better.”
For the second straight day, Carson needed a walk-off hit to win, 12-11, against Lowry Saturday morning at Wooster.
Lowry scored in its first six at-bats, as the only inning it was kept off the board was the seventh, and that was by reliever Gehrig Tucker, the fifth CHS pitcher of the day. He ended up with the win.
Lowry led 3-0, entering the bottom of the third, but Carson exploded for seven runs thanks to four hits, three walks and a hit batsman plus two balks and a wild pitch.
Tucker had a key two-run single, while Chazz Nystrom and TJ Thomsen also produced run-scoring hits.
Lowry scored two in the fourth off reliever Joe Runge, but the Senators countered with two of their own on a triple by Thomsen and a run-scoring infield out by Nystrom for a 9-5 lead.
Lowry got three in the fifth and three in the sixth for a 11-9 lead, as relievers Seamus Burns and Danny Guthrie struggled.
Carson evened the game at 11 with two in the sixth on a two-out single by Dom Norton, who was re-inserted into the game with two outs. Tucker had a chance to win it — with the time limit running out — but flied to center to end the inning.
After Tucker shut down Lowry in the seventh, Carson won it when Jace Zampirro was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on pinch-hitter Brandon Allen’s single.
“I just tried to hit it hard somewhere,” Allen said. “I was trying to keep it out of the here.”
The momentum stayed with Carson early against Damonte Ranch. The Senators struck for four quick runs against Zak Ukitis en route to a 4-2 lead.
Josiah Pongasi had an infield single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Norton and scored on Tucker’s single to center. Chase Blueberg doubled home Tucker to make it 2-0, and after Zampirro grounded out, Thomsen doubled home Blueberg. In the second, Allen tripled to left and scored on a passed ball to make it 4-0.
Damonte got two back in the bottom of the inning on singles by Casey McQueary and Jonny Damon plus a passed ball.
The Mustangs scored three in the third and five in the fourth to grab a 10-4 lead. Allen failed to record an out in the fourth, giving way to Guthrie and then Pongasi.
“I think I got a little tired from running the bases,” Allen said. “I didn’t locate well.”
Carson scored in the top of the fifth on Zampirro’s RBI single to make it 10-5, but the Mustangs exploded for five fifth-inning runs to end the game two innings early.
“We started off playing really good ball,” Manoukian said. “We were hitting the ball where it was pitched.
“Brandon breezed through the first couple of innings, but lost his control a little bit and made some mistakes. Everybody in this league can hit. We were much more competitive than the score shows. We played hard today.”
Allen led the team in hitting with a double and triple, and Pongasi had two singles.