Carson baseball salvages split with Reno
BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO - There's a bit of difference between sliding home to score and sliding off of home plate after scoring, but when junior Dustin Buttner looks back on his first home run as a member of the Carson varsity team, he'll likely remember only the sight of the baseball sailing over the fence in left-center field.
Buttner polished home plate with his posterior after his 370-foot blast, but his two-run dinger in the sixth inning also ended up to be the difference maker in game two on Saturday as Carson split its doubleheader with Reno at Foster Field.
"It was slick. I went down to get my bat," the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Buttner said with a smile about his pratfall at the dish.
No matter. The main thing about the homer was it put the Senators up 6-1, as they held off a Huskies rally to preserve a 6-4 win in the nightcap after dropping the opener, 5-3.
"I only wanted a base hit. A home run is just an extra," Buttner added. "I was just trying to do my job. He [Reno reliever Glenn Wallace] threw me an inside curveball. It feels good. It's nice to get it over with and get it in my first league at bat."
For Carson starter David Eller, it was nice to just watch his teammates put the Huskies away after he left the game with runners on first and second with one out in the seventh.
Eller, a senior, spread out six hits, one walk and seven strikeouts in a 98-pitch performance.
"I feel good - my arm started getting to me," Eller said. "We won the game; that's all that counts. We were fortunate and came out as a team today. We fought pretty good and got a win out of it."
Reno fought hard as well, scoring three runs in the seventh. Carson's David Perce, who relieved Eller, walked pinch hitter Griffin Kersch to load the bases. He followed that by walking pinch hitter Mitch Meranda to make it 6-2.
Enter Tyler Smith. He gave up a two-run single to Austin Nyman before forcing Thomas Wood to fly out to center fielder Tommy Preston, who immediately threw to second to force out runner Meranda for the game-ending double play.
Smith earned the save.
"In the second game, we needed to stop the bleeding - like a tourniquet," said Carson coach Steve Cook, whose Senators improved to 9-7 overall and 1-2 in Sierra League play. "We tried to put Perce in there, we thought he would be our closer, but Tyler Smith came in and threw five pitches and got a double play.
"All the way around I thought we played hard; we played defense. You have to play pretty well to beat Reno - especially at Reno. That last game was huge for us."
Reno, now 7-3, 2-1, got up on Carson and starter Rob Valerius early in game one, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Shawn Walters and a sacrifice fly by Drew Simpson.
Simpson took the win, spreading out seven hits and two runs in going the distance. He also struck out four and hit one batter.
Carson hung tough, tying the game 2-2 on a two-run double by third baseman Kyle Stone, who went 2-for-3 in the opener and 3-for-4 in game two with a pair of RBI in each game.
Stone scored on a passed ball to give the Senators a brief 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth, but Reno's three-run rally put the game out of distance.
Valerius went the distance, allowing six hits, three walks and four runs in six innings pitched. He also struck out three.
"The first game we ran out of outs," Cook said. "I thought both of our [starters] did very well. Rob did well enough to win. We try to put one or two [runs] up every inning, but if we get a bunch in the beginning [like they did in the nightcap], we'll take it."
Senior catcher Paul Cagle (2-for-4) put the Senators up 1-0 in the first inning of the nightcap, scoring hard-nosed shortstop Markus Adams with a single. Adams, who has been playing with a shattered nose since March 13, finished game two 3-for-3 and scored two runs.
After Reno tied it 1-1 in the second, Carson picked up a pair of runs in the third. Preston scored on a wild pitch and Adams came home on a Stone single. Preston also scored on Stone's fifth-inning sacrifice fly to give the Senators a 4-1 lead before Buttner's sixth-inning bomb.
Starter Tom Jameson took the loss for Reno, going five innings before the Huskies brought in a quartet of fresh arms.
"We may not see it this week or next week, but this win was big. This is very good for us," said Cook, who imparted some pre-game advice to his team.
"From the first pitch to the last out," Eller said of Cook's philosophy. "Make sure the pitchers pitch strikes. Be more aggressive at the plate."
The Senators will be hoping their success will carry over during Thursday's game in Minden, where they meet arch-rival Douglas. The game begins at 3:30 p.m.
NOTE: Senior catcher Cody Bone underwent surgery March 13 to repair a broken finger. He suffered the injury in the season-opener against Truckee on March 6. Bone is expected to return to the lineup as early as mid-April.