SPARKS — Carson High fired the first salvos in its doubleheader battle with Spanish Springs, but the Cougars won the war.
Carson had early leads of 4-0 in the first game and 5-0 in the second game, but ended up losing 18-8 and 10-9, respectively. The loss dropped Carson to 8-12 heading into the final week of league play against archrival Douglas. The rivals clash at 3:45 on Wednesday in Minden and at 7 p.m. Thursday in Carson.
It has been a rough few weeks for Carson, which seems to have lost its fight. At times, it seems like the Senators don’t care whether they make the post-season or not. Carson has now lost six straight and eight of its last 10.
“I don’t know what’s wrong,” said senior Chase Blueberg, whose two-run homer in the first gave Carson a 3-0 lead in the second game. “I always compare it to football. We don’t have the football mentality. It’s like we’re not going to battle, we’re going out to the park to play. It’s tough, hard when you’re always down.”
The opener was a microcosm of Carson’s season. Carson pitchers — starter Dom Norton and relievers Danny Guthrie and Seamus Burns — walked 11 batters, nine of which scored. With a doubleheader on tap and short rest for the Douglas series, CHS coach Bryan Manoukian stayed with Norton probably too long. After struggling in the first, Norton gave up eight runs and five hits in the bottom of the second. He walked four batters, all of whom scored and he gave up a 2-run homer to Chase Hauder.
Hauder’s homer capped the eight-run second inning and brought Guthrie to the mound. The homer also wiped out Carson’s 4-0 lead.
The Senators had scored four times in the top of the second when Norton singled, stole second and scored on a double by John Holton. Brandon Allen followed with a flyball to center which advanced Holton to third. Connor Leahy followed with a run-scoring single. A bunt by T.J. Thomsen and an error on Gehrig Tucker’s groundball loaded the bases. Josiah Pongasi followed with a two-run single to cap the inning.
The Cougars batted around aginst Guthrie, scoring five times for a 13-4 lead. Gehrig Parks hit a two-run homer, and with two outs, Guthrie walked three straight before uncorking a wild pitch and then giving up a two-run single to Hauder.
Carson, one of the top offensive clubs in the league, struck back for four runs in the top of the fourth to make it 13-8. Tucker had a run-scoring single, Norton a run-scoring double and Jace Zampirro hammered his first homer of the season.
Spanish Springs answered in a big way against Guthrie, who lasted one batter, and Burns. The big blow in the inning was a two-run single by Jake Haley which made it 16-8. After a scoreless fifth, Burns was yanked in favor of Thomsen after Parks singled and Justin Mannens walked. Jeff McCusker followed with a shot to left-centerfield. Parks scored easily, and Mannens scored the game-winner when Norton let the ball get past him.
“If you are going to walk 11 or 12 guys, you are going to lose,” Manoukian said. “We probably came real close or were equal in hits (13-11 edge for SS). Walking as many as we did isn’t going to get it done.”
Carson started the second game with a bang. Tucker hit an opposite field homer off Hauder, and after Josiah Pongasi was hit by a pitch, Blueberg followed with a towering homer to left-centerfield to make it 3-0. It was his fifth homer in the second half of the season. He has been the Senators’ main power source.
Zampirro reached on an error, and then hits by Dustin Dutcher and a double by Thomsen capped the inning.
As they did in the first game, the Cougars retaliated.
After a single and hit batsman, McCusker belted a three-run homer to right-centerfield to make it 5-3 after a wild first inning. Blueberg singled in Pongasi, who had reached on an error to make it 6-3.
Spanish Springs scored three in the third, tying the game at 6. Zampirro singled the go-ahead run to make it 7-6. The Cougars re-tied the game at 7 in the fifth on a solo homer by Hauder which was Dutcher’s last hitter.
Tucker came on, and he deserved a better fate.
After one out, Parks reached on an error by Pongasi, Justin Mannens singled. McCusker reached on a Pongasi error to load the bases. Haley was plunked by a Tucker fastball, scoring Parks to break the deadlock. Hauder followed with a two-run single to make it 10-7.
Carson scored twice in the seventh on a walk, passed ball, single by Norton and Allen’s infield out.
“We came out swinging well,” Manoukian said. “We had a few quick innings (third, ffth and sixth). We didn’t put pressure on them.”