RENO - The Carson Senators may not have emerged with a win against the Reno Huskies on Thursday, but they did find out that they are capable of taking them the seven-inning distance and then some.
Behind a strong performance on the mound by starter Tony Fagan and 12 hits from its offense, the Senators gave the Huskies a scare before losing, 5-4, in the ninth inning at Reno High School.
Reno improved to 10-7 overall and 3-4 with the Sierra League win, while Carson, which hosts the Huskies for a doubleheader on Saturday, fell to 14-4, 6-1.
Fagan spread out four earned runs, 10 hits and one walk, while striking out eight in the loss.
"As a whole, Tony Fagan did a great job," said Carson coach Steve Cook. "We ask him to give 100 percent every time he goes out there. He gave us everything he had and then some today. He threw his heart out on the hill. He's a gamer."
After Reno's Drew Simpson hit a home run to tie the game at 4 in the eighth, Cook lifted Fagan for reliever Matt Rutledge.
Rutledge got Carson out of the inning without any further damage, but after the Senators failed to get any runs in the ninth, the Huskies loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning and Rutledge walked in Jarred Volk for the Reno win.
"We made a lot of mistakes on the bases," Cook said. "We didn't execute the way we could. We left 10 runners on base. We left the bases juiced one inning. We had them juiced with no outs. There are things we can work out and do on the offensive side that will make it easier on ourselves."
The Senators went up 1-0 in the first inning when Paul Cagle doubled in Bryt Lewis.
The Huskies answered in the third, when Glen Wallace scored on Volk's fielder's choice.
Thomas Wood doubled in John Dankworth for a 2-1 Huskies lead in the fifth, but Carson tied it in the sixth after David Leid scored on a throwing error to first.
The Senators put the Huskies on the ropes in the seventh, taking a 3-2 lead on a Rutledge RBI-single, which scored Rob Valerius.
Wallace responded for Reno in the bottom of the inning, belting out a homer to tie at 3.
Continuing their see-saw battle with Reno, the Senators went up 4-3 in the eighth when Valerius' sacrifice fly drove in Cagle, but Simpson - Reno's starter (he went 4-plus innings) - answered with his own round-tripper.
Cook found several positives in the defeat.
"The only way (the loss) hurts is if we drop one at home - if we split, we lose the series," Cook said. "The way it helps is that the kids are still hungry. They lost, but they are not defeated as a squad. By no means is it an unclimbable hill. At home we have a comfort level."
Cook said that Nick Smallman will be the likely starter for game one Saturday, with Valerius or Stephen Sawyers taking the hill for game two.
"We have a ton of confidence in whoever gets the ball," Cook said. "We beat McQueen (7-4 on March 27) and whoever gets the ball we feel good about."
Cook said another positive was that catcher Brooks Greenlee - who came in as a pinch hitter - played in his first game of the season for Carson after returning from a suspension for violating team rules.
"Brooks got a hit on the second pitch he's seen all year," Cook said. "It's good. We have the best bench player in the league (Greenlee). Having him in only makes us better. He's more than willing to buy into it. He's been a team guy since the year started. We'll find a spot for him.
"We got contributions from all the kids. The way the game is, we can be the better team for eight innings and lose in the ninth. It was a back-and-forth game. We came up on the short end, but it's not going to change the way we go about business. They're buying into the team concept and playing team ball. We have just as good a chance as they (the Huskies) do going into this weekend."
The Carson-Reno doubleheader begins at 10 a.m. at Ron McNutt Field.