BASEBALL: Banfield, Pradere lead Carson to win over Cougars
Charlie Banfield’s season took a turn for the better much to the chagrin of the Spanish Springs Cougars.
Banfield pitched 5 2/3 innings of five-hit ball, and Brock Pradere singled in two runs in a four-run second inning to lead the Carson Senators to a 7-5 Northern 4A win Tuesday afternoon at Ron McNutt Field.
Carson gained a split in the two-game series and improved to 3-1 in league play. Carson starts a two-game series with McQueen Thursday. First pitch at Ron McNutt Field is 3:45 p.m.
Banfield, who was impressive against Fallon and struggled against Wooster, was at the top of the game for five innings before tiring in the sixth and allowing two runs. The big difference Tuesday is that he was able to throw three pitches for strikes, so opposing hitters couldn’t sit on his fastball.
“I’ve been working on my curve the last couple of days,” Banfield said. “It was there today. I was able to get my change over, too. I threw all three for strikes. I thought I did a good job today. It was nice to see the bats wake up a bit.”
“It’s all about mechanics,” Carson coach Cody Farnworth said. “If you get on top of the fastball it make a big difference and you’re better able to throw the curveball. He had good command of all three pitches.”
Banfield gave up a solo homer to Chase Kittilsen with two outs in the first, but retired 13 of the next 16 batters. In that span, Spanish Springs only put one runner in scoring position.
His teammates rewarded his pitching with a run in the first, four in the second and one in the fifth for a 6-1 lead after five.
In the first, Nick Domitrovich reached on an error, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Rory Petersen and scored on Casey Wolfe’s fielder’s choice groundball. Domitrovich was a dead duck at home, but Kittilsen threw wildly to the plate.
In the second, Dion Copoulos walked and moved to second on a single by Cole Dufresne. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Copoulos scored on a single by Domitrovich. Pradere followed with a two-run single to make it 4-1.
Pradere went 2-for-2 and drew walks. In two games against the Cougars he reached base eight straight times on four hits and four walks.
“Brock had a good series,” Farnworth said. “He’s playing to the level we expect him to play at.”
“I feel really good at the plate right now,” Pradere said. “We strung hits together today, and that’s what we need to do if we’re going to string some wins together.”
Petersen added a run-scoring single and Wolfe added a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1. Carson tacked on another run in the fifth when Gehrig Tucker doubled and scored on Drew Moreland’s single to right. Spanish Springs escaped without further damage.
Spanish Springs closed the gap to 6-3 in the top of the sixth thanks to a two-run single to right by pinch-hitter Lucas Jones. The hit chased Banfield from the game. Tyler Valley came on to get the last out of the inning.
“I started to leave the ball up,” Banfield said. “That’s a conditioning thing. I need to be in better shape.”
Carson got an insurance run on a two-out error in the last of the sixth.
Valley made it interesting in the top of the seventh.
He hit No.9 batter Troy Weller with a pitch. Weller was forced out at second. Shane Lawson was retired on a fly ball to center. Kittilsen walked to put runners on first and second. Vince Agliolo followed with a comebacker to Valley, who promptly threw it well over Moreland’s head at first, allowing a run to score. Kittilsen went all the way around to third and came home on a wild pitch during Anthony Tiscareno’s at-bat. After Tiscareno walked, Valley caught Hunter Tracy looking to end the game.
Farnworth said the Senator will have their hands full against McQueen.
“McQueen is good,” Farnworth said. “I think they’re one of the top teams in the league.”
NOTES: Jace Zampirro gets the starting call on the mound for Carson … Pradere, Petersen and Tucker all had two hits for Carson… The game was delayed for approximately 15 minutes when plate umpire Billy Martin was hit in the stomach by a foul tip in the first and was unable to continue behind the plate. He and his partner switched positions for the rest of the game.