The Carson High baseball team squeezed out arguably its biggest win of the year. Literally.
Carson used back-to-back squeeze plays to score the tying and go-ahead runs during a five-run seventh inning for another one of its patented comeback wins as the Senators won at North Valleys 8-4 on Thursday. The win gives Carson an advantage over North Valleys in the race for the Northern 4A playoffs heading into Saturday's doubleheader against the Panthers, beginning at 10 a.m. at Ron McNutt Field.
The Senators (15-7) improved to 7-3 in league while North Valleys fell to 6-4. Five teams - Douglas (11-1), Reno High (6-3 heading into Thursday), Damonte Ranch (7-2), Carson and North Valleys are battling for the league's four playoff berths.
"This is a very big win," Carson coach Steve Cook said. "It gets us back on track. It's doubly important because it's league. Right now it's five teams battling for four spots."
The Senators carried a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth. Matt Rutledge had shut down the Panthers to that point, walking just one. "Matt Rutledge threw the ball very, very well," Cook said.
But after Rutledge walked the leadoff hitter and allowed a single, he gave way to Stepen Sawyers, who was able to record two outs. But Sawyers also allowed an RBI sacrifice fly and an RBI single before giving way to winning pitcher Tyler Smith.
Smith got a groundball that should have ended the inning, but an error allowed North Valleys to take a 4-3 lead. Smith went on to record the last out to end the inning. Paul Cagle began the seventh inning rally with a walk, Tony Fagan singled and Rob Valerius walked to load the bases. Nick Smallman and Drew Good then executed back-to-back squeeze plays, scoring runs to give Carson a 5-4 lead before Markus Adams hit a three-run double to cap the rally. David Eller pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh.
The Senators took a 1-0 lead in the first when Adams singled, Bryt Lewis was hit by a pitch and Fagan followed with an RBI single. Carson made it 2-0 in the fourth when Good tripled and scored on Brooks Greenlee's single.
The same combination gave Carson a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth when Good single, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Greenlee's single.
Greenlee had three hits, Fagan, Good and Adams all had two hits and Valerius and Smallman each added a hit. "The kids played very well," Cook said. "I'm pretty happy with the way we played."