RENO - If someone had told Carson baseball coach Steve Cook on Tuesday that his team would score a combined 19 runs in two games against McQueen and defending Northern 4A region champion Galena, he probably would've felt pretty good about it.
But after the Senators dropped an 18-9 decision to McQueen on Wednesday and followed it with a 16-10 defeat to the Grizzlies on Thursday at Manogue High School, Cook had a smile on his face, but said there's some work to do on the mound.
Although Carson had 16 hits, it also gave up 14 and committed three errors - for a total of eight in its last two games. The Senators also stranded 11 base runners against the Grizzlies, one day after leaving on 10 against the Lancers.
"We made way too many mistakes," Cook said. "We weren't getting outs. We'd get them right where we wanted and we couldn't seal the deal. It starts on the hill. We gave up a six-run first inning from our end. It's tough to come back and play from behind all of the time - especially against Galena. (Wednesday) against McQueen we had to answer the bell; same today."
The Grizzlies, who improved to 7-1 on the season, rang Carson's bell and jumped on starter Kyle Mandoki early, ringing up 10 runs and nine hits over the first three innings.
Designated hitter Corey Metoyer's two-run homer to left field capped a six-run first inning, which also saw starting pitcher Tony Thompson and Basim Azzam hit a pair of RBI-singles and third baseman Jake Hess nailed a two-run double.
In the second inning Thompson - a Kansas signee - hit a two-run rocket over the scoreboard in left field for an 8-3 lead and Matt Evans and J.D. Peters each added an RBI-single in the third for a 10-3 advantage to put Carson on the ropes early.
The Senators fought back and touched up Thompson (1-0) for three runs in the bottom of the first on a trio of RBI-doubles by Bryt Lewis, David Leid and Tony Fagan, but Thompson lasted five innings.
Thompson, making his first start of the year, spread out 11 hits and three runs (two earned), while walking one and striking out three. He was also 3-for-5 with 3 RBI from the plate.
"I thought Tony threw great," said Galena coach Gary McNamara. "Last week he got pulled out of the championship game at Reno with a 104-degree temperature and missed his start. This was his first opportunity of the year. From a coaching standpoint I wasn't expecting a lot.
"But he's a four-year starter. I thought Tony was around the zone all day and had a great first outing."
And a bit of early offense did the rest.
"I thought we played pretty well - we got six runs right (away)," McNamara said. "We'd been struggling with the bat. We were kinda looking for more of an overall effort all day long. It's the best we played all year. I'm happy for that."
Mandoki went four innings, giving up 10 runs, nine hits and four walks, while striking out four. He was relieved by David Eller, who surrendered a two-run homer to Evans (2-for-3, 2 RBI) in the fifth, and Galena was on the verge of ending the game early with a 12-3 lead.
Eller allowed two runs and two hits in 1 1/3 innings before Paul Cagle came on in the sixth.
Hess entered the game in relief of Thompson in the top of the sixth and ran into a determined group of Senators.
Carson fought back from the precipice and a sacrifice fly by Cagle (who went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI) brought home Markus Adams to make it 12-4.
Pinch hitter Cody Bone doubled to right, Fagan (2-for-4 with 1 RBI) followed with a walk and first baseman Rob Valerius crushed a three-run homer to left to close the gap to 12-7.
Valerius went 3-for-4 with a walk and 3 RBI.
"They outhit us. They did a great job," McNamara said of the Senators. "They swung the bat really well. After the first inning, the tempo was set for an offensive-style game. There was a lot of hits and runs for both teams. Those three, four Os (scoreless innings by Carson) were the difference makers."
Galena almost put away Carson again with a four-run seventh - Eric Maupin had a one-run homer and Jacob Anderson added a three-run shot - to make it 16-7, but Cagle, who also went 1 1/3 innings, struck out pinch hitter Max Landis to give the Senators one final chance to rally.
Carson loaded the bases on a Kyle Stone single, a fielder's choice by Adams and a walk by Lewis. With one out, Hess hit Cagle with a pitch to bring home Stone and make the score 16-8.
Pinch hitter Matt Rutledge hit a two-run double to close the gap to 16-10, but Peters came on in relief of Hess and struck out Fagan and got Valerius to fly out to center to end the Senators' comeback bid.
With the loss, Carson fell to 7-2 on the season.
"Kyle settled down and did a good job, but by the time he settled down it was pitch-count time and we went to the pen," Cook said. "It's still the preseason and I don't want to push the kids too far."
Cook said it was yet another learning experience for what Cook said was a relatively young team.
"As far as character goes, I think the game showed a lot about our little team," Cook said. "We were never afraid to come back. A lot of young kids pitched in - Paul Cagle, Kyle Stone...Matt Rutledge had two bad legs and he comes in and pinch hits. Our young kids seem to be swinging the bats good right now.
"We just need to figure out what's going on between the pitcher and the catcher. We're throwing strikes, but the pitch count is death to our pitchers. I shouldn't have to go out to the mound and motivate our pitcher in the first inning. As far as our offensive effort goes, I'm very happy."
Cook said today's game against host team Manogue, 5-1, will be a chance for Carson to cap the tournament on a positive note.
"It's very important to leave the tournament with a winning record," said Cook, whose team beat Elko and Spanish Springs in its first two games of the tournament on Tuesday.
"Manogue isn't a cupcake team. We wanted a zone atmosphere and we're getting it. We're playing McQueen, Galena and Manogue back-to-back to back. In zone play they don't give you a day off. We're tired now. But at zone you don't care if you're tired.
"Tomorrow we'll see what we have left in the tank. Tony Fagan will be on the mound. He needed to rest an extra day. He wanted the ball today, but it's better safe than sorry."
The Carson-Manogue game begins at 3 p.m. at Manogue High School.
In other tournament action, Spanish Springs defeated Hug, 12-0, and North Valleys lost to Manogue, 6-2, before coming back to take a 4-2 win over McQueen in 10 innings.