If one had just arrived at Ron McNutt Field following the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, looking at the two teams the assumption would have been that North Valleys swept the series and Carson was reeling.
Actually the Senators accomplished their mission, taking two of three games in the series. But Carson also let North Valleys off the hook and missed a golden chance to sweep the series - and practically deliver a knockout blow to the Panthers as far as the Northern 4A playoff race goes in the process.
Carson won the opener 11-7, but lost the nightcap 13-12 in 11 innings. The Senators overcame a 10-2 deficit to take an 11-10 lead, but ended up missing two excellent chances to win the game in extra innings.
"We took two out of three," said Carson coach Steve Cook, trying to maintain perspective. "We had our opportunities. They just outlasted us."
The Senators (16-8) still have a leg up on the Panthers in the Sierra League race in which five teams are fighting for four playoff berths. Carson is 8-4 in league while North Valleys is 6-6.
Carson also holds the tiebreaking advantage over the Panthers if the two teams end up tied having taken two of three from North Valleys. But the Senators had a chance to go to 9-3 while dropping the Panthers to 5-7.
Douglas leads the Sierra League at 11-1. Damonte Ranch was 8-2 and Reno High was 5-5 going into their doubleheader on Saturday.
The Senators' loss wasted an outstanding effort in relief by Tyler Smith, who was the tough luck loser after being charged with one run over five innings. "Tyler Smith did a very good job," Cook said.
In the 11th inning, Smith was chased was chased after a single, a walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases with one out. Paul Cagle came on, but the Panthers gave Carson a does of its own medicine as Sean Smith executed the sqeeze play to give North Valleys a 13-12 lead.
On Thursday, Carson executed back-to-back squeeze plays to take the lead on its way to an 8-4 win over the Panthers. Cagle got Van Love to pop out to end the inning.
Brandon Parent retired the side in order in the bottom of the 11th for the save. Jared Harvey pitched four scoreless innings for the win.
Smith received a huge lift from his defense in the 10th when Chase Perkins, whose grand slam home run gave North Valleys a 10-2 lead, led off by lining a shot into the right field corner. Perkins tried to stretch the play into a triple, but was nailed by perfect relays from rightfielder Nick Smallman and second baseman Markus Adams.
Carson put two runners on in the eight, ninth and 10th innings, but failed to score. "We didn't execute enough or do the job past the seventh," Cook said.
"We had all the opportunities in the world. One team had to push a run across and that team wasn't us."
The Senators looked poised for the sweep with ace Tony Fagan on the mound, but he uncharacteristically struggled and was chased in the fourth when Perkins hit his grand slam to make it 10-2.
With runners still at first and third and one out, David Eller came on and got an inning-ending double play. Eller gave Carson a solid effort, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings.
Carson closed to within 3-2 in the bottom of the first when Adams led off with a bunt single, Brooks Greenlee singled, Bryt Lewis hit an RBI double and Rob Valerius followed with an RBI single.
The Senators exploded for nine runs in the fifth to take an 11-10 lead. Carson caught a break as the rally began when Adams reached first on a passed ball after striking out.
Bryt Lewis was hit by a pitch and Cagle singled to load the bases. David Leid walked to force in a run and Valerius hit a two-run single.
Joe Skates followed with an RBI single and Smallman and Drew Good walked to force in a run. Adams' RBI sacrifice fly made it 10-8 and then Greenlee belted a three-run homer to give Carson an 11-10 lead.
Kyle Mandoki came on in the sixth and retired the first batter he faced. But after walking a hitter, Mandoki allowed Billy Thomas' two-run homer that gave the Panthers a 12-11 lead.
After walking another batter, Mandoki gave way to Smith. Carson tied it in the bottom of the sixth on Skates' RBI single.
Lewis had three hits, including a triple, Leid had two hits, including a double, Greenlee, Skates, Cagle and Valerius all had two hits and Good added a hit.
In the opener, Carson scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to take an 11-7 lead. After Fagan walked and Leid doubled, Valerius hit a two-run single and Skates followed with a two-run homer.
Smallman gave Carson a solid effort, allowing four earned runs on just three hits over 5.1 innings. Stephen Sawyers pitched 1.2 scoreless innings for the win.
Carson trailed 3-0 when Leid belted a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 3-2 in the second. The Senators trailed 5-2 in the third when they came back to tie the score 5-5. Fagan had an RBI single, Leid hit an RBI sacrifice fly and Valerius had an RBI single to make it 5-5.
Carson took a 7-6 lead in the fifth on Cagle's two-run homer. Greenlee, Fagan, Valerius, Leid and Lewis all had two hits.
CHS JVS SWEEP
Carson (14-7, 8-4) swept a doubleheader at North Valleys, winning the opener 8-5 and the nightcap 13-7. In the opener, Jeff Davies had two hits, Tom Preston and Tom Purcell each had a hit, Brooks Hutchins went 2-for-4 with three RBI and David Perce had a hit and an RBI.
David Charles struck out six over 4.1 innings while allowing three hits for the win. Purcell struck out two over 1.1 inning and Perce struck out two over 1.1 scoreless innings to pick up the save.
In the nightcap, Carson scored six runs in the seventh to break a 7-7 tie. Tyler Hutchins had two hits and two RBI, Preston ws 2-for-3, Brooks Hutchins was 3-for-4 with two RBI, Collin Grischott was 3-for-4 with three RBI, Davies had a hit and an RBI, Mason Bondi was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Blake Plattsmier and Blake Davidson each added a hit. Justin Allbritten pitched five innings and Perce struck out three over the last two innings for the win.