Carson High baseball coach Bryan Manoukian convened a team meeting before Tuesday’s game against North Valleys, and the subject matter was the Senators’ less-than-stellar performance at the plate.
Whatever was said behind closed doors worked.
The Senators scored five times in the bottom of the first en route to an 11-6 win over North Valleys at Ron McNutt Field in a Northern 4A game.
Carson evened its league record at 5-5, and starts a two-game series against McQueen tonight at 6 at Carson.
“Coach (Manoukian) got on us,” said junior third baseman Abel Carter. “We have been playing a little lax; we’re not hitting very well. I think guys are pressing, trying to do too much.”
Carter said he would put himself in that category.
Other than the two lopsided wins over Hug, Carter was 3-for-14 in his last six conference games excluding the series against the Hawks. He came back with a vengeance, smashing a three-run homer, a single and a two-run homer in what was his best offensive performance of the season.
After the Panthers nicked starter Ben Nelson for an early run, Carter gave Carson the lead for good with a homer to left-centerfield off starter-loser Clay Perry. Carter also accounted for the final two runs with an opposite-field homer to right.
“I knew the first one was out,” Carter said. “It started high and kept going. The second one I thought was going to be an out, but the wind kept taking it. I don’t think I’ve ever driven in five runs in a league game, maybe in a summer game.”
Carson went on to add two more runs in the first as Jared Barnard doubled home Trevor Edis, who had walked, and Brandon Gagnon singled home Barnard. The Senators left the bases loaded when Jesse Lopez was retired.
Leaving the bases juiced was commonplace for the Senators, who left the bases jammed four times in their six at-bats. Manoukian didn’t seem to be bothered by that.
“They walked (or hit) a lot of batters, and we had runners on all night,” Manoukian said. “I think we had more competitive at-bats tonight. We did leave a lot of runners on.”
Carson hitters were walked nine times and hit by pitches three times. Of those 12 free bases, five scored.
Carson starter Ben Nelson was unable to hold the 5-1 lead, however, surrendering four runs in the fourth. The big blow was a two-run single by A.J. Dennis. Derek Schafer had to come in and put out the fire. He departed after the sixth inning, and Colby Zemp pitched a scoreless seventh.
The Senators retaliated with two in the bottom of the fourth inning for a 7-5 lead.
Bryce Moyle singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Jace Keema walked and Edis reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases.
Barnard had a run-scoring single and Kahle Good had a run-scoring fielder’s choice. Gagnon followed with a ball that was headed to right field, but it hit Good for the third out.
North Valleys scored a run off Schafer in the sixth to make it 7-6, but Carson put it away with four in the bottom of the sixth, again answering a North Valleys’ surge with one of its own.
Good started the rally with a walk and moved to third on a single by Landon Truesdale, who took second on the throw to third. Lopez followed with a clutch two-run single to make it 9-6, and he scored moments later on Carter’s two-run homer to right.
“Wins are hard to come by in this league, and I know you get tired of hearing me say that,” Manoukian said. “You can say we let one get away Monday, but coach Pinto (John, North Valleys head coach) has done an outstanding job with that team this year. They are young and ultra scrappy. They played hard and did what they had to do.”
Manoukian has tabbed Barnard to start today, and Moyle will come back on Saturday, weather permitting, against the Lancers. Moyle threw 62 pitches on Monday and will be working on shorter rest than normal.