It’s been a long time since Charlie Banfield picked up a pitching win — March 9 to be exact.
Banfield, who has been bothered by a leg injury, threw six shutout innings to lead the Carson Senators to a 5-0 win over McQueen Thursday night at Ron McNutt Field.
The win evened Carson’s record at 7-7 in league play (14-9 overall) heading into Saturday’s 11 a.m. doubleheader at Reno High.
Banfield struck out three, walked four and allowed three hits before turning the ball over to Zak Harjes, who closed out the game. It was arguably the best game of Banfield’s Carson career.
“It feels good to get back to feeling comfortable pitching at home,” Banfield said after doing his post-game chores. “I guess it could be nerves. Let’s just say it’s more the atmosphere. I lost my pitching mechanics. I was leaving the ball up in the zone.
“It was pretty good tonight. My breaking ball was moving pretty well. Nevin (Elliott) and I were working on that in the bullpen. I was getting a good snap down.”
Not only was Banfield’s win good for his frame of mind, it was one that the team needed heading down the stretch run in league play.
“This is a huge win,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “Even though it’s early, it was must win. If they would have won, they would have been one game behind us. Charlie came out as a senior should and pitched really well. He made big pitches when he had to.”
The Lancers loaded the bases in the second inning on a fielder’s choice, walk and error, but Banfield retired Robbie Dalpe on a comebacker to end the inning. The Lancers also had runners reach second base in the third and fourth innings, but couldn’t come up with a big hit.
Carson took a 1-0 lead against McQueen’s Sam Gamboa in the second when Luke Maher singled to left, moved to second on Banfield’s first of two bunt singles, advanced to third on Elliott’s infield out and scored on Casey Wolfe’s fielder’s choice.
“Charlie has the go-ahead to bunt whenever he wants,” Manoukian said. “He’s good at it. He’s missed the last 4-5 games with that hamstring injury, he bunted a couple of times tonight to get his rhythm and then hit a nice ball to center.”
The Senators put the game out of reach in the fourth with four runs thanks to timely hits by Wolfe and T.J. Thomsen.
Banfield beat out a bunt single and advanced to second when Elliott was hit by a pitch. Cody Schmidlin followed with a groundball to shortstop Nick Agliolo whose throw to second was wide in an effort to force Elliott out. Banfield scored on a wild pitch and then Wolfe singled home Elliott. Thomsen followed with a triple over the head of Tyler Fritsen to score Schmidlin and Wolfe to make it 5-0.
Wolfe had a big night. He went 2-for-3 in his first home game since his dad, Christopher, returned home after a 10-month stint in Afghanistan. He is 5-for-9 in his last four games, and that’s key because it gives the Senators some pop at the end of the lineup.
“He’s doing much better job with his pitch selection,” Manoukian said. “He has a better idea of the strike zone. The ninth spot to me is just as important as the No. 1 or No. 2 spot. If you get somebody that can turn the lineup over that really helps the team.”