Carson advances to zone title game and state tournament

Carson finally won a game the easy way--by never letting the other team get the lead.

"That was so important," said the Senators' Owen Brolsma. "It was going to be tough to come from behind again like we have been."

After two games where it needed late-game heroics to pull out wins, Carson jumped out to 6-0 lead over Galena, and then held on for a 7-5 win on Friday night at the Northern 4A Regional Tournament at Ron McNutt Field.

The Senators (26-8) will play Reno today at 3 p.m. in the zone championship game at Reno High's Zunini Field. The Huskies (32-1), who swept a three-game series from Carson last weekend, beat Wooster on Friday night to advance to their fifth consecutive zone championship game. However, the Huskies haven't won a zone title since 2000, when they beat the Senators. Reno beat Carson by a combined score of 36-10 in the most recent series, including a 15-0 win in the series finale. Brolsma's approach to today's game is: different day, and much different team.

"They solid ball and we played the worst three games of the season," said Brolsma, who went 2-for-4 with two RBI against the Grizzlies. "That doesn't matter to us."

Galena (27-7) will play Wooster today at noon at Reno High for the third and final berth into next week's NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Tournament in Las Vegas. The Grizzlies, who beat Douglas 11-1 in an elimination game earlier on Friday, took a 7-1 lead against the Senators on Thursday night, only to watch them steal a 9-7 victory in the eighth inning.

But in a rematch of sorts Friday night, Galena didn't give itself much of a chance.

Carson scored six runs in the second inning and relied on the steady and effective pitching of junior Mike Handley after the Grizzlies made a late push. Willie Bowman started the Senators' rally in the second with a triple, and scored the game's first run on Eric Melendez' sacrifice fly to right field as Carson led 1-0. Neil Holmes provided the inning's second out, then Galena painfully watched the Senators' score five more runs.

Cameron Leck hit his first of two doubles in the game and then Tony Teixeira's RBI single made it 2-0. Jon Teeter, who hit the game-wining homer in Thursday night's win, ripped a two-run single and Brolsma and Bowman each added RBI singles.

In the top of the fourth Handley, who struck out 10 batters in his complete game victory, could've came unraveled. But he didn't. The 6-foot-1 junior walked Frank Kurnik and Brian Evans reached on an error to bring lead off hitter Warren Whitley to the plate. Handley walked Whitley and the two next batters, the second one scoring Galena's first run. A passed ball with the bases loaded made it 2-0, then Kameron Davis' two-run single made it 6-4. Suddenly, it was a ball game again.

"In the fourth inning, the error just about killed me," Handley said. "But I tried not to think about. It was real hard. That was the third out. I just had to come back and get them. I knew I had to get that last out."

He got it when he struck out Dalton Turnbow. With the Grizzlies gaining momentum, Brolsma killed it with his solo homer in the bottom of the fourth to give Carson a 7-4 lead.

"That made me more confident to go out on the mound and throw strikes," Handley said of Brolsma's homer.

Handley retired the next six batters and struck out the side in the sixth. In the seventh, he got the first two outs before Turnbow's towering homer to left field gave Galena hope. And when Ryan Plemmons singled it things got more hopeful, but Handley forced Jason Romero to fly out to center to end the game. He only allowed four hits in the game and none to Steve Lerud, who went 4-for-5 against Carson on Thursday.

Bowman went 2-for-3 and Teeter, Teixeira and Handley each had hits. Win or lose against Reno, Carson will still advance to the state tournament for first time since 2000. The Senators had qualified for state 10 consecutive years before that.

"I'm really excited. I thought it would be a cakewalk (to get to state) with all the tradition here, but it hasn't been," Brolsma said. "It's been two and out the last two zone tournaments."

GALENA 11, DOUGLAS 1

Jason Romero belted a first-pitch grand slam in the bottom of the sixth as the Grizzlies survived elimination by beating the Tigers on Friday afternoon. Galena, which was outhit 8-6 by Douglas, took advantage of four errors and eight walks from Tiger starter Bryan Miller to win by virtue of the 10-run rule.

In the first inning, the Grizzlies scored their first run on a bases loaded walk, then went up 2-0 on a sac fly. They scored their next four runs on errors. Douglas (20-11), which left four runners on base in the fourth and fifth innings, had its best chance to get back into the game in the fifth. With two outs, and Austin Graham on second and James Bunting on first, Marc Walling singled to left field. Coach John Glover sent Graham to home plate but he was tagged out. The inning was over, when it could given the Tigers a bases loaded situation.

"I take full responsibility for that," Glover said. "I just thought, we were down four runs and could get something going. It wasn't a smart baseball decision."

The Tigers got a run back in the sixth when Jake Nielsen's sac fly scored Luke Rippee. But after Steve Lerud's sac fly score Tyler Stafford, the Grizzlies loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning, which was then followed by Romero's game-ending blast off reliever Tyson Estes.

Stafford pitched a complete game, striking out two and walking two. He also went 2-for-4 with a triple. Branding Silveira went 2-for-3 to lead Douglas.

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