Carson High’s baseball team made its biggest comeback in recent memory and will live to play another day.
The Senators trailed 5-2 through five innings and had managed just four hits off Damonte Ranch lefty Jacob Applebach.
Then came the sixth inning, and the Carson bats exploded. The Senators scored seven runs on eight hits to knock off Damonte Ranch, 9-5, in an elimination game in the Northern Division I regionals Wednesday afternoon at Ron McNutt Field.
The Senators, 23-10 overall, advance to play Bishop Manogue today at 4 at University of Nevada’s Peccole Park in yet another elimination game. The teams split their regular-season series.
“It was definitely the most important comeback we’ve had (in my three years),” said Bryce Moyle, who had a key run-scoring double in the sixth. “It was an emotional comeback definitely.”
“Those (comebacks) tend to happen at this time of the year,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “The seniors remember what they are playing for, and they tend to dig down deep and find a way to win. Every senior on our team stepped up.”
The five senior starters — Connor Pradere, Kyle Krebs, Cody Azevedo, Terek Been and John Holton all contributed. The group went a combined 8-for-18 with six RBI. They all had a hand in the winning rally, too.
Holton’s contribution was two-fold. Not only did he go 2-for-3 and drive in the tying and go-ahead runs, but he also threw four innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win.
“John has been hitting the ball really well (late in the season),” Manoukian said. “He had a rough day yesterday, but he came back today with a couple of big hits, and he came into the game and shut them down.”
“Yesterday I had an off day,’ Holton said. “I just tried to keep my mind clear and hit the ball hard. The team came through. I knew we could get it done. There was no doubt in my mind.”
Azevedo led off the inning with a single, moved to second when Krebs’ groundball to short was misplayed, reached third on Been’s infield out and scored on Jace Keema’s single to center to make it 5-3. Abel Carter followed with a long run-scoring double to score courtesy runner Kyle Gagnon, trimming the deficit to 5-4.
Holton followed with his aforementioned two-run single to right to make it 6-5, and Moyle continued the hit parade with a double to left off reliever Tyler Oscarson to make it 7-5. After Jesse Lopez was retired, Pradere dropped down a bunt single, and then Azevedo and Krebs followed with run-scoring singles to cap the explosion.
Holton finished strong, striking out the side, including Weston Lord and Jordan Bridgman looking.
“I got in a rhythm and hit my spots,” Holton said. “My defense backed me up.”
It was the third straight comeback win this season for CHS over the Mustangs, who made an early playoff exit last year after losing to McQueen and Carson.
Damonte scored four unearned runs in the top of the second to take a 4-1 lead on two errors and singles by Ryan Riggle, Oscarson and Zack Jensen.
Carson made it 4-2 in the third when Jesse Lopez singled, stole second and third and scored on Pradere’s infield out.
CHS starter Jared Barnard left in the fourth after walking Zak Ukitis, who came around to score on Jensen’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
The Senators threatened to cut into the lead in the bottom of the fifth, but were the victims of a bad bounce.
With courtesy runner Brandon Gagnon at third and Moyle at second, Applebach uncorked a pitch that went to the backstop. Gagnon broke for home when he saw the ball get by the catcher, but the ball bounced back perfectly to the catcher, and Gagnon was tagged out at home. “I just didn’t think the ball would bounce off the backstop (like that),” Gagnon said. “I made a bad read. I’ve seen the ball bounce off to the side before.”
“It was just a kid trying to make an aggressive play,” Manoukian said. “He did a good job to make the catcher miss him the first time.”
At the time, it could have been a huge play, but in the end it wasn’t much more than a footnote.
NOTES: Manuokian said he was undecided on today’s starter. Trevor Edis faced Manogue and lost earlier this year. Other possibilities are Joe Nelson and Azevedo. Manoukian even hinted he might bring back Barnard and Holton back in short relief today. Holton threw 45 pitches and Barnard 56 … Carson needs to win today and two on Friday to reach the finals which would qualify the Senators for next week’s state tournament.