Had it not been for a case of the first-inning jitters, Carson’s 9-10 all-star squad would have won its opening game of the District 1 tournament.
Instead, three errors led to two unearned runs and a 4-3 loss to Reno National Wednesday night at Governors Field.
The loss sends Carson into a consolation bracket game of the double-elimination event on Friday at 5:30 against Valley Providence. Another loss would mean Carson can’t win the title.
Another problem for Carson was its two-strike approach. Eight times Carson hitters took called third strikes, including twice with runners at third base, once in the first and once in the fifth.
All the scoring was done in the first 1 1/2 innings, as it started out to be a slugfest, but soon settled down into a pitcher’s duel.
Mason Oliphant reached on an error to open the game and Garrison Geis was retired on a fly ball to center. Oliphant was caught stealing for the second out, and that’s when things unraveled for Carson.
Two more errors and a single by Grayson Grinsell accounted for two unearned runs against Carson starter Justin Nussbaumer.
Carson took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the inning.
Nussbaumer tripled to left-centerfield and scored on a passed ball. Carter March reached on a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Cameron Beckham singled March to third. After Beckham took second on indifference, Eddie Tierney ripped a two-run double to give Carson its last lead of the game.
In the second, Reno again scored twice for a 4-3 lead. Geis and Eric Nachtsheim delivered the run-scoring hits for the winners.
That was the extent of Reno’s offense. The visitors managed just three hits over the final four innings off Luke Pedersen (three innings) and Tierney, who pitched the final inning. In that span, Reno put just one runner in scoring position.
Meanwhile, Carson’s offense left runners in scoring position in the second, third and fifth innings.
In the second, Mikey Cruz caught Trey Thomas looking at a third strike to end the inning with Dillon Damico at third. Mason Naforno relieved Cruz in the third with two outs and Pedersen at first via a walk. Ashton Davenport singled Pedersen to second, but A.J. Kunter forced Davenport at second to end the inning.
In the fifth, March walked and moved to second on Tierney’s single. Pedersen followed with a blooper that fell in safely between the mound and second. Tierney was forced at second for the second out. Naforno caught Davenport looking at a called third strike to end the inning. Naforno breezed through the bottom of Carson’s order in the sixth to preserve the win. In 3 1/3 innings, he allowed one hit and struck out six hitters.