RENO — Carson High’s baseball team got a little help from the expected and unexpected Saturday in its Division I win at Wooster.
The expected help came from Josiah Pongasi, who reached base in all five plate appearances, and finished with two hits and two RBI.
The unexpected help came from sophomores Connor Pradere and Joe Nelson. Pradere, who was called up to varsity on Friday, went 2-for-3 and scored four runs, and Nelson, playing just his third varsity game, went 1-for-4 and drove in a run.
It all added up to an 11-5 win for the Senators, who improved to 6-2 overall and 3-0 in league. Carson hosts Wooster at 3:45 Tuesday with a chance for a second consecutive league sweep.
Carson coach Bryan Manoukian was full of praise for his two sophomores as well as Pongasi, who has been a supreme table-setter since taking over the lead-off role.
“Josiah has been as consistent as anybody we’ve had,” Manoukian said. “He’s done a great job getting on base and getting hits since we put him at the top of the order. He has really helped the offense.
“The sophomores (Pradere and Nelson) have stepped up. Connor did a great job today. We called him up last night because I wasn’t sure whether Gehrig (Tucker) would be able to play today. I’m not sure if Connor is going to stay up. We’ll take it one day at a time.”
Pradere didn’t hesitate when asked if he’d like to make the call-up a permanent thing.
“Absolutely,” said the second baseman, who is following in the footsteps of his older brother, Brock. “I hope I did well enough for coach to keep me up. It was probably just for this game. I knew I was going to start yesterday (Friday).”
Nelson has made three consecutive starts in left field, going 3-for-9 with an RBI and four runs scored.
“I’m doing well so far,” Nelson said. “The first game (against North Valleys) I was nervous, but I’ve been more confident ever since. I’m just trying to get comfortable playing varsity. The game is much faster.”
Carson took a 2-0 lead in the third when Pradere singled to right, stole second and third, and scored on a wild pitch. Pongasi walked, went to second on a balk to third on a wild pitch and scored when TJ Thomsen’s ball was mishandled at first.
The Senators extended their lead to 5-0 with three more runs in the fourth.
Chase Blueberg walked, went to second on Brandon Allen’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Nelson’s double. Pradere followed with an infield single, sending Nelson to third. The two sophs completed a double steal for a run and then Pongasi doubled home a run to complete the rally.
Blueberg, pitching on three days rest, threw three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fourth.
The Colts struck for two runs, one coming on a sacrifice fly by Austin Chipman and the other coming when Blueberg plunked Mike Sowers with the bases loaded. Chris Watts lined to first ending the threat. Had Watts’ ball been a couple of feet either direction the inning would have continued.
Carson made it 6-2 in the fifth when Thomsen reached on an error, stole second and third and scored on Blueberg’s sacrifice fly. Wooster scored an unearned run in the fifth on Pongasi’s two-out error. Blueberg left the game after five with a three-run cushion. He fanned three, walked four and hit a batter.
“I thought Chase did a fantastic job,” Manoukian said. “He pitched well enough to get the win. Now I can rest him until next Saturday (against Damonte).”
Watts came on for starter/loser Tenaya Brown, and Carson scored three unearned runs for a 9-5 lead.
Dom Norton’s infield out with the bases loaded scored the first run, Thomsen drove in the next run with a sacrifice fly and Jace Zampirro singled home the third run.
Tucker came on in relief of Blueberg, and he had location issues. He walked three batters and gave up hits to Sowers and Shawn Florence as the Colts closed the gap to 9-5.
The Senators cemented the win with two more unearned runs thanks to a two-out error on a Pradere roller and a Pongasi double.
Pongasi closed out the game with a 1-2-3 seventh.