Bryan Manoukian and Jon Polson have both been around baseball for a long time, but neither coach had ever experienced what happened in the third inning Thursday.
Damonte Ranch scored 12 runs in the top of the third, including 11 without making an out, en route to a wild 18-10 victory over the Senators in the opening game of a two-game series at Ron McNutt Field.
Carson dropped to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in Northern Division I action. The teams conclude the series at 11 a.m. Saturday with Chase Blueberg opposing Matt Olson.
“I haven’t seen a game where a team scores 11 runs without making an out,” Manoukian said. “I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to finish the game. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go to a fourth, fifth or sixth pitcher (in the third). Fortunately (Dustin) Dutcher came in and got us out of the inning.”
“I don’t know if I can recall, so I’d have to say no,” Damonte’s Polson said. “Everything we hit fell in. To have that score and only two errors ... It was kind of a strange game; weird. We put our foot on the gas pedal, took it off and then had to put it back on.”
Damonte led 4-3 when the proverbial roof caved in on the Senators. Damonte sent 17 batters to the plate and collected nine hits, including a three-run homer by Patrick Wolfe to make it 16-3 after three. Wolfe also had a run-scoring single in the inning. Justin Bridgman singled twice and drove in two runs, Olson singled in a run and Kyle Bailey doubled in a run.
Carson pitchers, and there were three of them in the inning, dished out four walks. A lot of the damage came against Charlie Banfield, who struggled in his brief stint. In 2-plus innings, Banfield gave up nine runs, all earned and six hits. He walked seven, hit a batter and struck out two. Tyler Valley came in and faced five batters, allowing four runs and four hits without getting an out. Dutcher did manage to get three outs, but not before giving up two runs himself. Carson made one huge error in the inning when Cody Schmidlin’s throw home on a potential double play groundball hit by Nate Nolan hit the bat in front of the plate, allowing two runs to score.
“It was one of those days where he didn’t have a feel for the strike zone,” Manoukian said. “He’s going to get four, five or six more starts before the season is over, so he’s got plenty of chances to prove himself.”
It would have been easy for the Senators to quit, but they didn’t. On the brink of elimination, Carson scored seven times in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit to 16-10 and avoid a mercy rule loss.
With one out, Chazz Nystrom singled and moved to second on a single by pinch-hitter Jace Zampirro. A single by Danny Guthrie loaded the bases. Sophomore Joe Birri singled between first and second, scoring Nystrom to make it 16-4. Dom Norton was hit by a pitch, forcing in another run. After T.J. Thomsen was retired, Gehrig Tucker walked to force home another run to make it 16-6. Luke Maher forced a sixth inning with a two-run single and Nevin Elliott, in his first at-bat of the season doubled home two runs to make it 16-10. Nystrom was retired to end the inning.
After a scoreless sixth, Damonte scored twice in the seventh off Nystrom to complete the scoring.
Carson went out quietly in the final two innings, but Manoukian was pleased with his team’s resiliency.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Manoukian said. “They never gave up. I told them if we were going to lose by 10 let’s at least make them go seven innings to do it, and we did that. All the kids that came off the bench got hits.
“Baseball is a funny game. You hit the ball and don’t get pitching or you don’t hit the ball and get good pitching. They’re a good team that can swing the bat.”
Carson collected 13 hits, matching its total recorded in the league opener against North Valleys. Thomsen went 3-for-4, extending his league hitting streak to five games. In that span, he’s hitting .642. Tucker, Maher, Elliott, Blueberg, Nystrom, Banfield, Zampirro, Guthrie, Harjes and Birri all had one hit each.