On a day when the Carson Blue Jays struggled at the plate against less-than-stellar pitching, it was a good thing that sophomore-to-be right-hander John Holton was at the top of his game.
Holton tossed a five-hit shutout and Chase Blueberg slugged a two-run homer to lead Carson to a 3-0 win over North Valleys on Friday night at Ron McNutt Field.
The win gave Carson a 6-11 record heading into Monday night’s game against the Rangers. First pitch is at 7 p.m.
Holton is in the middle of a summer-long audition in an effort to win a spot on the varsity team as a third baseman or pitcher. So far, he has done better on the hill. In his past three outings, which include two wins, he has given up zero runs and 12 hits in 13 innings.
His performance has opened coach Bryan Manoukian’s eyes.
“John is a competitor,” Manoukian said. “He’s thrown as many innings as our returning guys, and his numbers are right with theirs. He gives us a chance to win out there. We’re still evaluating him in terms of whether he can be a varsity pitcher.”
“It’s cool being up with these guys,” Holton said. “I’ve been learning a lot. Yeah, maybe I have a chance (to get the third starting spot) if my skills improve and the coaches keep teaching me.”
After Holton worked out of a first-and-third jam in the first inning, North Valleys didn’t get a runner past second base the rest of the game. Holton, who relied mainly on his fastball, also stranded two runners in the second after both reached on errors.
Carson scored the only run it would need in the first when Dom Norton was plunked by NV starter Cody Duke. T.J. Thomsen walked to advance Norton to second. Norton and Thomsen pulled off a double steal, and Norton scored on the play when the catcher’s throw was errant. Blueberg was plunked with a pitch and stole second, but Duke retired Chazz Nystrom and Dustin Dutcher to end the inning.
Carson upped its lead to 3-0 in the third when Thomsen reached on an infield single and scored ahead of Blueberg’s homer to left.
That was the extent of Carson’s offense. The Blue Jays managed just one hit in the last 3.2 innings against Duke and reliever Nick Everton.
“We had a terrible approach at the plate,” said Manoukian, whose team managed just three hits. “We didn’t make adjustments on balls away. I don’t know if we hit a ball to the right of second base all day. When pitcher don’t have a lot of velocity, you have to concentrate on taking the ball the other way, and we didn’t do that.”
NOTES: Carson played without sparkplug Gehrig Tucker, who was at a family function. Norton played short and handled five chances without an error ... After the game against the Rangers on Monday, Carson will play in the Manogue tournament starting June 20. According to Manoukian, the team will play once Thursday, once Friday and twice Saturday. The team also will play Sunday with the time to be determined ... Brandon Allen doubled in the sixth for the final Carson hit.