Rutledge throws two-hitter; Carson No. 3 seed
BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
Carson junior Matt Rutledge knew that a victory over Wooster on Friday would earn the Senators baseball team a three-seed in the upcoming NIAA Northern 4A regional championships, but he had six of his teammates in the forefront of his mind on Senior Night.
"It gave me a lot of motivation," said Rutledge, who pitched a two-hit complete-game for the Senators, who scored an 11-1 victory over the Colts at Ron McNutt Field. "It was their last time on the field. I wanted to do good for them more than anything."
All but one of Carson's six departing seniors - pitcher David Eller - started for the Senators, who, in sweeping the Colts, finished 15-6 in the Sierra League and improved to 25-12 overall.
Seniors Rob Valerius (2-for-3, one RBI and one run scored), Drew Good (2-for-3, two runs), Markus Adams (2-for-4, three RBI, one run), Cody Bone (0-for-2, one RBI) and Stephen Sawyers (0-for-2, one run) all contributed in the win for Carson, who will face High Desert League No. 2 seed Galena on Tuesday to open the double-elimination regional playoffs.
Galena, the two-time defending regional champion, took a doubleheader 15-3, 18-4, over the Indians in Elko on Friday and will host Tuesday's game with Carson at 3:30 p.m. The Grizzlies won all three of their meetings with the Senators this season.
Wooster finished its season 8-13, 13-18.
"It was just good to come out here on Senior Night," said Adams, who gave Carson a 7-1 lead when he connected for a three-run double in Carson's six-run third inning. "There was a lot of emotion. It was nice to go out the right way. I think we can all be happy. All of our seniors contributed tonight. It was a solid team win."
Adams came home on Valerius' first-inning single to give Carson a 1-0 lead. Wooster would tie it 1-1 in the third before Carson's six-run burst in the bottom of the frame put the game out of reach.
"It was pretty emotional," Adams said. "The last two, three years we've put so much time out here, starting in the spring and going year-round. It's weird knowing this was the last time we're going to take this field for Carson as one, that we won't be out here as the Blue and White on Ron NcNutt Field.
"There's so much prestige playing under these lights and for this city. It's definitely a weird feeling knowing that I won't play here again."
After a Valerius groundout scored Kyle Stone and junior Paul Cagle scored on a wild pitch, Bone, who started at catcher, hit a sacrifice fly to give the Senators a 4-1 lead. It was Bone's first start since he broke a finger in the season-opener and subsequently underwent a pair of surgeries to insert and remove a pin.
"I told him not to try and make up for the whole season in one night," Carson coach Steve Cook said of Bone. "He got an RBI and he did a good job behind the dish. I'm happy for him to get out there and make it into the game. It was disheartening for the coaching staff too see him work so hard and not play."
Junior second baseman Brett Valley singled in Valerius in the fourth and Carson added three runs in the fifth to take a 10-run lead, ending the game via the mercy rule. Pinch hitter Cody Barr doubled in Good and pinch hitter Dustin Buttner nailed a two-run homer to center for the game-winner.
For his part, Rutledge came out aggressively on the mound and managed, for the most part, to get ahead in the count for one of his best performances of the year.
"I was just trying to locate my pitches," he said. "For the last two days, Sawyers and Robbie have been throwing strikes. I tried to throw strikes and let my defense do its work. I was trying to get ahead with my fastball. It ended up going well for us. It was a big win for our seniors."
Adams said he was happy the defense was able to give Rutledge some support.
"Rut has been probably our best guy all year. We just haven't shown up for him," Adams said. "It was nice to show up for him tonight. He's the type of pitcher that lets the defense help him out. We're confident every time he takes the ball he'll win. We as a defense can make that happen."
"We've been working through some things, some mechanical flaws," Cook said of Rutledge. "He's had some tough luck with the guys playing behind him. He's come back. He's worked so hard to get where he's at now. He's made strides."
And so have the Senators, who won 10-of-11 Sierra League games since dropping an 8-6 contest to Damonte Ranch on April 10. Carson has won 11-of-13 games overall in that same period.
"I'm being redundant, but right now they're buying into the team concept," Cook said. "They're doing it over and over - that's all you can ask of them."