RENO - Carson High's baseball team came within inches of pulling off a three-game sweep of North Valleys, but coach Steve Cook was satisfied with two victories in the three-game series.
Carson won the opener 13-7 thanks to two-run homers by Kevin Schlange and Logan Parsley, and a solo shot by Brooks Greenlee. North Valleys fought off a late Carson rally in the nightcap to win 7-6.
"We battled the whole way," Cook said after the Senators split Saturday's doubleheader with the host Panthers. "With the way we played in the second game, we still had a chance to win.
"Royal (Good) dropped down a bunt and I don't disagree with what he did. If he gets it toward the line a little bit, he beats it out."
Cook was referring to a pressure-packed last inning, which saw his team load the bases against North Valleys reliever Archie Kovich, who had surrendered two sixth-inning runs to make it 7-6 entering the seventh.
The speedy Good elected to drop down a bunt. Kovich came off the mound like a cat and threw out Good to end the game. Carson dropped to 10-2 in the Sierra League.
Though Good was obviously distressed after the game, that play didn't make or break the Panthers.
No, it was the team's inability to do much at the plate after taking a 4-0 lead in the top of the first in the second game. Carson managed only three hits the rest of the game against starter Chase Perkins and Kovich.
"I think we got satisfied," Cook said. "We got a couple of runs up and the kids thought they (North Valleys) would die. Give North Valleys credit, they hit the ball well."
Carson also made two baserunning blunders, making it three in two games. The first came in the top of the third when Tony Fagan was thrown out trying to steal third with one out and the score tied at 4. Fagan, according to Cook, missed a sign.
"He thought it was a bunt and run," Cook said. "It was just a bunt."
North Valleys tied the game at 4 in the third, as Van Love rocketed a three-run homer off starter/loser Kyle Mandoki. Perkins doubled in the first run of the inning.
The second baserunning mistake came in the top of the fourth when Greenlee tried to steal third with runners on first and second and nobody out. He was easily gunned down by Love. Perkins managed to escape the inning unscathed. Greenlee said he thought the ball was in the dirt.
The Panthers parlayed that mistake into a three-run fourth inning to take a 7-4 lead, driving Mandoki off the mound. Alberto Santiago hit a two-run triple to deep center and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Mandoki's third and fourth innings were polar opposites of the first two when he struck out four of the first six hitters he faced.
"Mechanically, he didn't seem as sound as the first two innings," Cook said. "He threw real well (early). It didn't seem like he had control. His velocity was still good."
After four scoreless innings, Carson finally got its offense untracked in the top of the sixth.
Kovich walked Greenlee and then got a strikeout. Parsley hammered a deep drive to center driving in Greenlee. Josh Caron followed with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Parsley. A strikeout ended the inning.
That set the stage for a wild seventh, which ended in heartbreak for the Senators.
A huge bright spot in the defeat was the relief work of Nick Smallman, who retired all seven batters he faced. He helped stabilize the game for the Senators. Smallman also pitched in the first game, allowing a run.
"He was solid today," Cook said.
The opening game was another battle for the Senators, who fought back from a 4-3 deficit in the second inning. Carson's offense scored in every inning, though it was out-hit by North Valleys 10-9.
A two-run homer by Schlange and a bases-loaded walk to Greenlee enabled the Senators to take a 7-4 lead after three innings.
Carson made it 9-4 in the fourth when David Leid drove in two runs with a single, but North Valleys matched that in its half of the inning to make it 9-6.
The Senators took control in the fifth when Parsley smacked a two-run homer to make it 11-6, and Greenlee's solo homer in the sixth made it 12-6. Each team scored a run in the seventh to complete the scoring.
"It was a back and forth game (early)," Cook said. "We kept hitting and we put up a lot of runs."
Jack Jacquet picked up the win, though he wasn't at his best, according to Cook.
"He ended up throwing six (innings)," Cook said. "He struggled at the beginning. He threw the ball well late in the game."
Cook was referring to Jacquet's final two innings, the fifth and sixth, when he blanked the Panthers before Smallman took over in the seventh.