Handley, Holmes lead power surge in doubleheader sweep
Mike Handley could have been the most productive No. 9 hitter in all of baseball Friday night. Check box scores in the Major Leagues and the minor leagues. Heck, even check Japan. You probably won’t find another batter at the bottom of the order on any team on the planet that had a better game than 6-foot-1 junior from Carson High.
“That was probably one of the best games I’ve ever had,” Handley said. “Most teams think because you’re the No. 9 hitter you can’t hit, so they throw fast ball, fast ball, fast ball. I just kind of sat back and swung.”
Whack, whack, whack.
Handley single handedly (no pun intended) beat Scotts Valley in the second game of a double header at Ron McNutt Field. He went 3-for-3 with two homers and seven RBI in a 10-0 win. His three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth ended the game.
“I’ve had some one home-run games in Little League or whatever but never a two home-run game,” smiled Handley, whose RBI total was a single-game high for any Senator this season. “Normally our top four hitters hit really well. Now, our 7, 8, and 9 guys are hitting.”
Neil Holmes, who hit out of the No. 5 spot in both games, went 2-for-3 with a pair of two-run homers in a 9-3 win in the first game of the doubleheader. Holmes picked up his third and fourth home runs, respectively, of the season Friday. He hit his other two last weekend against North Valleys.
“I’m just kind of in my zone right now and seeing the ball really good,” Holmes said. “I think we definitely have a very, very good chance against Reno the way we’re swinging the bat right now. Our defense has been good and our pitching is solid. So I think we have a good chance.”
Sophomore Jake Rasner pitched three innings in game one and got the win. Scott DeFriez got the win in game two after striking out seven batters in three innings. DeFriez, Jared Wulff and Ryan Henry combined to throw a no-hit shutout, the first time Carson pitchers have done that in the regular season.
Perhaps Friday night offered just a glimpse of what the Reno Huskies can expect from the Senators when the two teams meet in a pivotal three-game series in two weeks. A Carson sweep would earn it the Sierra League title. However, the Senators (20-5) first must spend next week in Hawaii. They’ll play three games over their spring break before returning back to the mainland. Hopefully, their minds won’t still be in Honolulu when they play first-place Reno.
“We just got to stay focused, even though it is our vacation,” Holmes said.
“Reno’s definitely a good team but we’re playing pretty well right now,” Handley said. “We just to go there and try and play good baseball, so we come back playing well for the Reno series.”
Eric Melendez went a combined 3-for-6 with two RBI against Scotts Valley, which is coached by Tom Urbani, a former major leaguer who was an assistant coach with the Carson Capitols for two summers. Aaron Henry went 1-for-4 with three RBI in the first game.