Carson High is facing the meatiest part of its schedule now, and coach Cody Farnworth hopes that his team is ready for the challenge ahead.
The Senators are if Thursday's 11-6 win over archrival Douglas at Ron McNutt Field is any indication. Chance Quilling and Colby Blueberg drove in three runs apiece as Carson scored four times in the first and pounded out 15 hits in the easy victory.
The win upped Carson's record to 18-6 overall and 10-5 in 4A play. The Senators are tied with Manogue for fourth place.
"We're trying to win all we can," Farnworth said. "We're getting into part of the season when we need to be peaking.
"He (Quilling) did have a good game. It's what we need from him. We need everybody to get hot because it doesn't get any easier from here."
Indeed. After playing at Douglas on Saturday, the Senators finish the season against Bishop Manogue and Galena, two of the toughest teams in the 4A.
Farnworth wasn't thrilled with the way his team finished. Carson led 11-2 entering the top of the seventh, and reliever Casey Wolfe was roughed up for four runs, three coming on a homer by Cody Begovich.
"It bothered me a little," Farnworth said. "Douglas is going to swing it until the end. Casey threw strikes and they hit the ball."
Douglas coach Bruce Jacobsen, who watched his team fall to 6-9, hopes that the seventh inning gives his team a boost heading into Saturday's game in Minden.
"Nobody likes to lose," Jacobsen said. "We stayed in it for seven innings. My guys kept battling and they gave us a chance to win at the end. Hopefully that will give us momentum for Saturday.
"The top of their lineup is pretty good. They got on top early and kept adding. (Austin) Pacheco, (Chance) Quilling and (Colby) Blueberg are really good players. Scott (Rudnick) did what we asked him to do which was throw strikes. They hit the ball."
And, the Senators hit it immediately, quickly wiping out Douglas' 1-0 lead.
Nick Domitrovich led off with a ringing double to right-centerfield. He was thrown out trying to go to third on Rory Petersen's groundball to short. Petersen moved to second when Austin Pacheco walked, and Quilling drove in both runners with a double to right. Quilling scored on Blueberg's single to right to make it 3-0, and Dion Copoulos made it 4-1 with a single to right.
"I'm pretty happy (with the way I hit)," said Quilling who went 2-for-2 and walked his other two trips. "This gives us confidence going into Saturday's game."
The Tigers tacked on another run in the third against Blueberg to make it 4-2 thanks to Shane Fencl's double and Leo Trebotich's sacrifice fly to center.
Blueberg pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth, working out of big jams in both innings. He allowed just three hits in his five innings of work. He touched 88 on the radar gun, and was in the mid-80s much of the time.
"I had a hard time throwing first-pitch strikes," Blueberg said. "I had to make some adjustments because of the wind. I tried to be short and compact with my delivery."
"Colby had a good fastball," Farnworth said. "He didn't have his best stuff, but he still competed."
After the Tigers pulled to within 4-2 in the third inning, the Senators scored three in the fourth and three in the fifth to go ahead.
In the fourth, Quilling and Blueberg drove in runs, and in the fifth Petersen drove in a run, while the other two scored on an error and wild pitch, respectively. Carson added a run in the sixth when Brock Pradere singled home Dion Copoulos, who had reached on a single.
Wolfe, who had breezed through the sixth inning after taking over for Blueberg, ran into big problems in the seventh.
Kameron Van Winkle drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly. Matt Thomas and Cody Lommori singled, and Begovich followed with a homer to deep right-centerfield to make it 11-6.