For five innings, the Carson High offense was nowhere to be found. The Senators were at the mercy of Galena southpaw Andrew Ferguson.
Carson's offense finally came alive in the sixth inning, but fell a run short in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in the opening round of the 4A NIAA zone playoffs Wednesday night at Ron McNutt Field.
The loss drops the Senators into a loser bracket game against Reno today at 3 at McNutt Field. Reno was upset by Reed on Wednesday.
"Andrew was outstanding," Galena coach Gary McNamara said. "He threw a lot of strikes early, and the early lead obviously helped. He got a little tired, so I got Eric (Maupin) in there."
Maupin almost wasted Ferguson's superb effort. Had it not been for the Senators' inability to play small ball in the seventh and a phenomenal play by Galena catcher Phil Diaz, Carson might have pulled out an upset win.
Adam Anderson opened the seventh with a single to right and was replaced by pinch-runner T.J. Hein. Brooks Greenlee also singled to right, Hein taking second on the play. This is when things began to unravel for Carson.
Jeremiah Teeter fouled off his first bunt attempt. He got the second attempt down, but it went right to Maupin, who was able to force Hein at third base for the first out. With Derek Shoaf at the plate, Maupin delivered a ball in the dirt. Greenlee, getting a great jump on the ball, easily made third. Teeter, however, appeared to get a late jump and was gunned down at second by Diaz for the second out.
"I don't know if Teeter got a very good break or not," Carson coach Steve Cook said. "I don't think he was anticipating a throw to second base. One play didn't lose us the game."
"That was huge," McNamara said. "He wasn't going to get the guy at second base, but he recognized that he might get the guy going to second. Instead of the tying run at second, the tying run was at the plate. That was a great play."
The play became even bigger when Shoaf drove in Greenlee with a single. Shoaf stole second, but was stranded when Josh Caron took a called third strike on a pitch that just caught the outside corner.
The tough-luck losing pitcher was Mike Teixeira, who had a rough first inning, but settled down and pitched well the last five innings. He fanned two and walked one.
Justin Norvick singled to left and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After Ferguson walked, Anthony Thompson blasted a three-run homer to left on a two-seam fastball that Teixeira left up in the zone.
Thompson said after the game that he thought he'd popped the pitch up. He had no idea when it left his bat that it was a homer.
"That was a rough first inning," Cook said. "It started with a hit on an 0-2 pitch and ended with a bomb (homer).
"I thought Mike threw a great game. He settled down and started to get command of his pitches. Their guy threw a good game. He kept us off balance."
Maupin made it 4-0 with a two-out run-scoring double.
Carson finally solved Ferguson in the sixth when Jack Jacquet singled and moved to second when the Grizzlies misplayed Royal Good's sacrifice bunt. With runners at first and second, Kevin Schlange singled to left, scoring Jacquet. Parsley followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2. Ferguson buckled down and retired Murphy Gardner to end the inning.
"We got guys on base, and when we did that he (Ferguson) was a little different guy," Cook said. "He was getting a little more of the plate than he wanted."
The momentum Carson built with those two runs died in the seventh.
Darrell Moody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281