RENO - Memo to the Carson High baseball team - today's game against Manogue begins at 1 p.m.
The Senators looked like they forgot the start time for Wednesday's Northern 4A playoff elimination game against North Valleys when they made three errors in the first inning and a half, leading to four unearned runs and a 4-0 deficit. But then Carson got its act together, rolling to a 16-5 win in a game that was called after 4 1/2 innings due to the mercy rule.
The fact the game only lasted 4 1/2 innings certainly helps pitching-wise for Carson, which has a long haul. The winner of today's Carson-Manogue game at Manogue will play Galena at 4 p.m. If Carson advances, it must beat the Grizzlies twice to make it to Saturday's championship game.
So that fact Tony Fagan pitched only two innings, Matt Rutledge faced on two batters, Paul Cagle pitched only one inning and starting pitcher Kyle Mandoki saw limited action will certainly help Carson's cause. No doubt all of those pitchers will be available along with Nick Smallman.
Smallman, who has yet to see action on the mound, had two key hits on Wednesday. "Definitely," said Smallman on his willingness to take the ball. "I'm ready to get out there and throw."
And it's virtually certain that Fagan will take the mound at some point. "We're definitely going to have to use him later on down the line," Carson coach Steve Cook said. "We're fighting for our lives. We can't afford to have any big innings."
Mandoki struck out the first two batters he faced, but then Bryt Lewis dropped a flyball in left field that eventually led to an unearned run, giving Manogue a 1-0 lead. Lewis, though, would more than make up for the error with two key hits himself.
In the second, two more errors led to three unearned runs, making it 4-0. After Mandoki hit a batter, giving Manogue runners at first and second with one out, Cook went to Rutledge. "Kyle was throwing the ball well," said Cook about Mandoki, who struck out three.
Rutledge struck out both batters he faced. "The sophomore definitely came up big for us," said Cook about Rutledge.
Carson then exploded for six runs in the bottom of the second, all with two outs. David Leid was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on Rob Valerius' RBI single.
Smallman followed by hitting an 0-2 breaking pitch on the inside part of the plate over the left field wall for a two-run home run that cut the deficit to 4-3. "I guess it played into my at bat," Smallman said. "I was a little behind on his fastball."
Smallman said Carson may have suffered a hangover from Tuesday's 17-4 loss to Manogue.
"I think at first we were a little down. It kind of carried over from the first game. That was huge," said Smallman about the second inning rally.
"That definitely switched the momentum of the game. When we're excited we play a lot better baseball."
After Smallman's homer, Kyle Stone walked and Markus Adams was hit by a pitch. Brooks Greenlee hit the second of his three doubles to score a run and Lewis followed with a two-run double that made it 6-4.
Fagan entered in the third and allowed a leadoff single. But the hit was wiped out when Leid threw out the runner trying to steal second, the second baserunner he threw out.
The play was big at the time because Billy Thomas homered for North Valleys to cut the deficit to 6-5. Fagan didn't allow another hit over his two innings and struck out three.
Cagle pitched a scoreless fifth. "He threw the ball very well for us," said Cook about Fagan.
In the bottom of the third, Leid doubled and Cagle followed with a mammoth two-run shot to left that could be still rattling around somewhere near Meadowood Mall. Smallman then whent with a 2-2 pitch on the outside corner, taking it to right for an RBI single. Stone singled, Adams and Lewis each hit RBI singles and Fagan hit an RBI sacrifice fly that made it 12-5.
In the fourth, Stone hit a two-run double, Adams had an RBI sacrifice fly and Greenlee hit an RBI double that made it 16-5. Greenlee and Lewis each had three hits and Stone added two hits.
"It took us a little while to wake up then we realized it was a do or die situation," Cook said. "We got some good feeling in the dugout. Things just fell in place from there.
"We hit the ball very well I thought. Yesterday (against Manogue) we were hitting the ball hard we were just hitting the ball at people."