Steve Cook can't remember the last time Carson High laid down two run-scoring suicide squeeze bunts in the same game.
T.J. Hein dropped down a successful squeeze bunt in the second and Sean Costella laid one down in a two-run sixth inning, and Josh Caron scattered six hits to lead the Senators to a 3-1 win over North Valleys in a Sierra League game at Ron McNutt Field Tuesday night.
Carson improved to 9-1 in league play. The teams will play a double-header on Saturday at North Valleys.
"Two runs on squeeze bunts won the game for us," Cook said. "I'll take that. We're not normally a small-ball team, but we were successful doing that today. It is something we work on in practice.
"Runs were tough to get across today. Josh (Caron) kept us in the game. I'm happy with the way we played today. We were trying to lift and pull the ball. I didn't want them to hit the ball in the air."
Indeed. Other than a first-inning error by Kevin Schlange that led to North Valleys' only run, and a baserunning mistake by Costella in the fifth, Carson played a flawless game.
North Valleys scored its only run in the first and Carson tied it when Hein was able to get a 1-1 pitch in play to score Schlange, who started the inning with a single. It wasn't an easy pitch to get down, but Hein managed to do it despite having his bat at a straight up and down position..
"Before the pitch I told myself wherever it was I was going to get the ball down," Hein said. "It's the first time I've had to squeeze this year."
"That's a great job," Cook said. "When we give the signal, they know they have to get it down. His bat was straight up and down."
With the bgame tied at 1, the game settled into a pitcher's duel between Caron and NV's Trevor Holman, who found out 20 minutes before the game that he was going to start. NV coach Rob Hastings said Justin Cutler's arm tightened up before the contest.
Caron survived a shaky third inning when Jose Rodriguez doubled, and then was thrown out at third by Brooks Greenlee after one of Caron's pitches bounced into the dirt. The play turned out to be huge when Archie Kovich singled to center with two out. Greenlee threw out Kovich attempting to steal second base to retire the side.
"He (Rodriguez0 was flat-footed and then decided to go," Hastings said. "he's going on a guy with a good arm. The ball has to get out of the dirt area before he can go. Their catcher made a good throw to get Kovich."
Caron, who fanned seven and walked a batter, allowed a hit in the fourth and two more in the fifth. In the latter inning, he picked off Chase Perkins, who left too early on the hit and run.
The Panthers went without a whimper in the final two innings, as Caron fanned fiour straight at one point.
Meanwhile, the Senators' bats were just as quiet against Holman, probably even more so when you consider they were out-hit 6-3.
Jack Jacquet reached on an error to open the last of the sixth. Holman fanned David Leid looking, but Schalnge drew a walk. Alberto Santiago relieved Holman and walked Jeremiah Teeter to load the bases. Enter Kimo Borges, who hit Hein in the helmet fo force in Jacquet and snap the 1-all tie.
Costella followed with a squeeze bunt, scoring Schlange. Again, it was a tough pitch to put the ball in play on. Borges walked Greenlee, but struck out Royal Good to end the inning.
Hastings could only shake his head after the game. Two runs and the ball never left the infield.
"You walk eight and hit a guy, and they put down two good squeeze bunts," he said. "They did what they are supposed to do.
"I thought our guy threw well. It's too bad he didn't get the win."
Part of the credit for that goes to Caron and his defense.
"I struggled the first five innings," Caron said. "I had to work a lot harder todaqy than I have had to. The sixth inning I felt a little better. It was hard all day to hit my spots.
"They (North Valleys) played well. We weren't hitting, but we did it with our bunts."
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
Sierra League Baseball
Carson 3, N. Valleys 1
N. Valleys 100 000 0 - 1 6 1
Carson 010 002 x - 3 3 1
Holman, Santiago (6), Borges (6) and Love; Caron and Greenlee; W - Caron. L - Holman.
N. Valleys hitting - Perkins 1x3; Rodriguez 2x3, 2B; Kovich 2x3, 2B, RBI; Borges 1x3.
Carson hitting - Greenlee 1x2; Schlaqnge 1x2; Costella 1x1, RBI; Hein 0x1, 2 RBI