RENO — The day started on an ominous note with its best player leaving school because of illness, and ended up on a high note when Carson High posted its second consecutive baseball win over North Valleys.
The Senators used big two-run hits by Dom Norton and Jace Zampirro plus a nice pitching performance by Dustin Dutcher to offset the absence of Gehrig Tucker and post an 8-4 win to gain a series sweep Tuesday afternoon.
Carson, 5-2 overall and 2-0 in league, opens a two-game series Saturday at 11 a.m. at Wooster.
“All league wins are big,” CHS coach Bryan Manoukian said. “We’re very fortunate to be where we’re at. We’re trying to take things one game at a time. Our seniors stepped it up today and led by example.
“I think Dutcher did a fantastic job on the mound. He made good pitches when he needed to. We got some keys hits, and we were able to take advantage of a couple of mistakes to pad our lead. I don’t know if we’ll have Gehrig (Tucker) or not (Saturday). He came to me earlier and said he was sick and had to go home.”
Both teams scored in the first.
Josiah Pongasi singled and moved all the way around to third on a wild pick-off throw by NV starter/loser Ian Flanary. TJ Thomsen drove in Pongasi with a sharply hit ball to deep second base. NV evened it on Cody Duke’s two-out single.
Neither team scored until the fifth.
Dutcher walked and was safe at second when Flanary threw too late on Joe Nelson’s sacrifice bunt. With runners at first and second, Pongasi singled to center on an 0-2 pitch to load the bases. Norton hammered a shot to left which got through left fielder James Wheatley, allowing all three runs to score for a 4-1 lead. Norton tried to steal third but was thrown out. That was costly as Zampirro and Thomsen both singled which would have meant at least one more run.
Dutcher, who sailed through the first four innings, yielded two runs in the fifth. Some of it was his own doing.
Bobby Cranston doubled to left, and was replaced on the basepaths by Guardian Degeyter. Wheatley dropped a bunt down the third-base line. Dutcher picked it up, whirled and threw wildly to first. Degeyter scored on the play, and Wheatley eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Trenton Stowe to make it 4-3. Dutcher should have conceded the bunt single instead of throwing the ball.
“It was definitely my fault,” Dutcher said. “Brandon (Allen) said he called me off, but I didn’t hear him. It was hard for me to whirl and make a throw.”
“Definitely, you want the third baseman to make that play,” Manoukian said. “Brandon called for it. It’s easier for a right-handed player coming in to make that play instead of a left-handed pitcher. It’s early, we’ll learn from it. Fortunately he made some good pitches and we kept the damage minimal.”
Dutcher’s effort was much better than his previous outing against Reno where he gave up five runs in 3.2 innings.
“I was a lot more focused,” Dutcher said. “I was a lot more confident going into this game.”
Danny Guthrie wriggled out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth, setting the stage for a big seventh inning by the Senators.
Two walks and a bunt single by Thomsen loaded the bases. Zampirro followed with a two-run double. Wheatley booted the ball, allowing Thomsen to score all the way from first to make it 7-3. Chase Blueberg singled home Zampirro for Carson’s final run.
North Valley scored in the seventh, and had runners on first and second when Cody Duke rolled out to second, as Guthrie earned his first save of the season.