Carson squeezes out 5-4 win over error-prone Tigers
MINDEN – Normally, the Douglas baseball team spends its post-games cleaning up Tiger Field and preparing it for the next day.
Following the Tigers’ game with Carson Thursday afternoon, though, Douglas broke from its ordinary routine and spent its postgame fielding buckets of ground balls in the infield.
Of course, the game itself was anything but ordinary, as well.
Douglas was cruising to a seemingly solid 4-0 shutout over the fourth-place Senators before imploding in a catastrophic seventh inning.
After five errors and four runs, all unearned, Carson forced extra innings and pushed ahead for a 5-4 win in eight innings.
It was Douglas’ third-consecutive loss, with each coming by just one run.
“Any time you lose a lead in the seventh inning, whether it is one run or four runs, it’s a tough pill to swallow,” Douglas coach Bruce Jacobsen said.
“We really shot ourselves in the foot. We didn’t make the plays we needed to in order to win, and that’s been true of each one of these losses.
“We went from potentially beating the fourth-place team in solid fashion and controlling our own destiny to potentially needing some help down the stretch.”
For Carson, which had stranded eight runners (four in scoring position and two on third) entering the seventh, the game was a potential emotional turning point to the season.
“We’re hoping it’s a confidence builder,” Carson coach Cody Farnworth said. “We’re hoping we can rebound and start playing the way we think we can play.”
Douglas wasted a solid effort on the mound from sophomore Kyle Johnson , who struck out six, walked two and scattered six hits in 7.1 innings of work.
Johnson entered the top of the seventh with the four-run cushion, but Carson’s TJ Thomsen started the rally by reaching on an error at first base.
Gehrig Tucker and Brock Pradere then each reached on groundball errors, loading the bases with no outs for Nick Domitrovich. Domitrovich belted a double into the left center gap, scoring two and sparking the comeback.
Pradere scored after a grounder from Luke Maher was too tough for the Tiger infield to handle and Rory Peterson reached on a sacrifice bunt attempt that wasn’t handled cleanly, allowing Domitrovich to score.
Johnson was able to recover from there, striking out a batter and then inducing a pair of fly balls to end the inning.
“Kyle just did an awesome job,” Jacobsen said. “He shut them out for seven innings, and we give him five errors in the last inning. We got three ground balls to start the frame. Realistically we should have walked away with a 4-0 shutout. We couldn’t do it for him.”
Farnworth could only shrug his shoulders.
“Hats off to Kyle Johnson, I thought he pitched really well,” Farnworth said. “He kept us off-balance and really had us on our heels. He did a great job. But we kept plugging away and it worked out in our favor today.
“We struggled early, left the bases loaded in the first inning. But Domitrovich comes up with the big hit in the seventh and that really sparked us.”
While Carson’s Charlie Banfield claimed the win in relief, striking out three, walking one and allowing no hits in two innings of work, starter Drew Moreland kept the Senators in the game. He struck out four, walked two and scattered just three hits.
“Drew has been like that all year for us,” Farnworth said. “He has a nice curveball and he can keep batters off balance.
“Douglas can swing it , but he kept us in it. We had some errors that cost us, but he maintained his composure and that’s what we need from our starters.”
In the bottom of the second, Moreland surrendered a solo home run from Douglas’ Nolan Weintz that got up in the jet stream before falling over the 370-foot mark in left-center. In the bottom of the fifth, Douglas’ Sullivan Cauley reached on an error in the infield and Matt Santos got hit by a pitch. No. 9 hitter Chase White stepped up and blasted a two-run double to left, extending the Tigers’ lead to 3-0.
Douglas had the potential to blow the game open in the bottom of the sixth when the Tigers loaded the bases after Dusty Fisher reached on an error, Kaleb Foster singled and Cody Begovich drew a walk.
Weintz hit a sacrifice fly out to right, scoring Fisher for the 4-0 lead, but the Tigers couldn’t add to it from there.
“We had opportunities, but we didn’t get it done,” Jacobsen said. “We have to come back tomorrow night. That’s the great thing about baseball, we don’t have to wait until next week to fix it. We have to work hard for some wins from here on.”
Tucker, Domitrovich and Maher each collected two hits to lead Carson while Domitrovich finished with the Senators’ only two earned runs.