RENO — The Carson Blue Jays were a busy team last week, playing seven games in five days.
So, when they took the field Wednesday night against the Galena Cubs, their starting line-up was filled with varsity reserves and players up from the JV squad. Conversely, the Cubs were playing their first summer game and had several starters on the field.
As expected, the younger Carson players struggled against Galena right-hander Nick Brown, who struck out 10 in six innings, and left after six innings with a 5-1 lead.
The Blue Jays rallied to tie the game at 5 in the top of the seventh only to see the Cubs score a run in the bottom of the seventh and walk off with a 6-5 victory.
“Everybody was pretty tired,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “We asked our pitchers to throw a lot of innings. Our younger players didn’t get a lot of opportunities.
“Everything we did was predetermined; the order we threw our pitchers and how long they threw. Our regulars were going to get an at-bat no matter what the score was. We started off a little slowly, but we managed to keep the game at 5-0 (for a while).”
Carson failed to get a runner past second base in the first five innings, but finally broke through in the sixth against Brown.
Kahle Good hit a one-out single and moved to second on an infield single by Jayson Artz. An error loaded the bases and Daniel Morrison singled to left to make it 5-1. Brown fanned Nico Salm and retired Kellen McDermott on an infield roller to end the threat.
Abel Carter, who worked two scoreless innings in relief, pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, setting the stage for Carson’s comeback thanks to its veteran players.
Carter was plunked by reliever Matt Kriedland. Jared Barnard, pinch-hitting for Joe Tonino, walked. Jesse Lopez, batting for Kyle Glanzmann, singled home Carter to make it 5-2. Bryce Moyle, yet another pinch-hitter, hammered a two-run double to left to make it 5-4. Moyle eventually scored, tying the game at 5. Nick Carey came onto retire Morrison to end the rally.
Jace Keema came on in relief, retiring the first batter he faced in the seventh. Andy Heinrichs hit a double and scored the game-winner moments later when Charles Douglas’ chopper got past Good at second base.
Carson hosts McQueen Saturday (7 p.m.) and then leaves Monday for a tournament in Boise where it will play five game in four days. It’s the first summer trip Manoukian has taken since taking leadership of the team.
“It’s the right time,” he said. “We’re in a good spot monetarily. Washoe has finals next week, and we normally wouldn’t have a game. It’s the perfect time to get out and play other teams, bond and see where we’re going to be next year.”
Carson has some battle-tested veterans like Moyle, Keema, Lopez, Trevor Edis and Carter, and some inexperienced varsity players like Nico Salm, Brandon Gagnon, Cole McDannald, Derek Schafer, Luke Myers and Kellen McDermott.
The key for Manoukian is getting those two groups to blend with a talented group of players from the JV squad, including Landon Truesdale and Good.