RENO - Victimized by a nine-run fourth inning rally in the opener, the Carson High School baseball team answered with a big fifth-inning rally in the second game to pull out a 9-5 victory and salvage the second game of a Sierra League doubleheader against North Valleys Saturday afternoon.
North Valleys won the opener 14-10. The second-game win was crucial because Carson (2-1 in league and 12-3 overall) stayed within striking distance of Douglas and Reno.
The Senators, down 5-2 after two innings in the nightcap, came back to score five runs in the fifth to take the lead. Eric Melendez pitched three innings of shutout relief to preserve what turned out to be a highly important win for the Senators.
"We had to have that, especially after the first game we played," Carson coach Ron McNutt said. "My hat's off to (North Valleys coach) Rob Hastings. They totally outplayed us, outhustled us, outcoached us and everything else in that first game. But my hat's also off to our kids in the second game. They really came back and put things together."
The Senators were down 5-4 when Melendez reached second on a misplayed fly ball to lead off the fifth. Mike Handley and Dave Nelsen walked to load the bases. Jason Alcasas singled over third base to drive in two runs, and Jeff Hurzel followed with a two-run double to center. Hurzel later scored on a two-out wild pitch to give the Senators their 9-5 lead.
Handley started on the mound and pitched four innings of seven-hit ball to earn credit for the win.
"I thought Mike pitched well in his first real test since he was injured in football," McNutt said, referring to a broken wrist the senior sustained in October. "Then Eric came in and threw awfully well for three innings."
Hurzel helped out defensively when he made a shoestring catch of a sinking liner in left field. The Panthers got a single off Melendez in the seventh before Willie Bowman, Logan Parsley and Leck combined to turn a groundball into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
Bowman went 2-for-4 and Parsley had an RBI single as Carson collected eight hits in the second game.
North Valleys scored five runs in the second to take a 5-2 lead, as Doug Mott hit a a two-run double and Eric Mansfield's delivered a run-scoring triple.
North Valleys scored all 14 of its runs in the second, third and fourth innings in the opener. The Panthers finished with 16 hits, led by a 3-for-4 performance from Matt Barnes.
"When you give up 16 hits, you don't deserve to win the game," McNutt said.
Carson had 11 hits in a losing cause. Bowman went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Nelsen was 3-for-4 and Parsley 2-for-4.
The Senators had two runners on base in the top of the seventh before Mansfield retired the side on a strikeout and fly out to save the win for starter Josh Holman.
Carson returns to action Tuesday ( 6 p.m.) with a nonleague game at home against Reed. The Senators visit South Tahoe for a league game on Thursday and then return home Friday to face South Tahoe in an 11 a.m. doubleheader on Friday.