PREPS: Carson smashed by Cougars in playoff opener |

PREPS: Carson smashed by Cougars in playoff opener

Darrell Moody

SPARKS – Carson High’s first baseball playoff game since 2009 was an utter disaster.

The Senators committed three errors and misplayed another ball that led to 12 unearned runs. And, their normally potent offense managed just three hits off Malcolm Anderson.

It all added up to a brutal 16-0 mercy rule loss to Spanish Springs in the opening round of the Northern 4A playoffs Tuesday afternoon at Spanish Springs.

The loss drops Carson, 20-10 overall, into the loser’s bracket. The Senators will face Damonte Ranch today at 1 at Galena High in an elimination game.

“This wasn’t the Carson team I’ve seen all year,” said Carson coach Cody Farnworth, who didn’t even talk to his team following the game. “Our inexperience in playoffs showed. I never thought we relaxed the entire time. We’ll lick our wounds and come back (today).

“Spanish Springs can swing it. Two grandslams will get you in a hole. We didn’t play ball.”

And, the Cougars did.

“I had 15 different scenarios (on how the game would play out), but this wasn’t one of them,” said Ben Hofmann, Spanish Springs head coach. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

And, it never should have happened. Neither Tanner Oates’ or Kyle Clark’s homers should have happened.

Carson starter Colby Blueberg opened the game with a strikeout and allowed a single to Oates. Chase Kittilsen followed with a well-hit flyball to center. Chance Quilling badly misjudged the ball, and it rolled to the fence, allowing Oates to score. So instead of two outs and a runner at first, it was a run in and another in scoring position.

Kendall Murphy followed with a run-scoring single to make it 2-0, and then Brock Pradere misplayed Anderson’s groundball near second base, sending Murphy to second. Tim Epker followed with a hard single to right, and both runners scored when the ball got by Austin Pacheco. Kyle Clark bunted Epker home to make it 5-0.

Blueberg struck out Matt Mannens for what should have been the third out of the inning. After an infield single by Garek Tauchen and walk to Jake Bray loaded the bases, Oates came to the plate for the second time and cleared the bases with a homer to left-centerfield to make it 9-0. Blueberg struck out the next hitter to end Carson’s worst inning of the season.

Blueberg deserved a better fate. He could have gotten out of the first with just one run save for the misplays.

“Hitting is contagious for any team,” Hofmann said. “I don’t care whether it’s Little League or not. That (Oates’ hit) was big, absolutely.”

“Colby was throwing the ball well and hard,” Farnworth said.

Blueberg’s pitch count was around 40 in the first inning, and Farnworth elected to use younger pitchers the rest of the game. Zak Harjes threw the second and third, and Jace Zampirro threw the fourth. Blueberg could be available Thursday if the Senators get that far.

Harjes threw a scoreless second, but he ran into big problems in the third, and was removed with two outs in favor of Zampirro.

Spanish Springs scored seven times on five hits and one error on Harjes. The big blow was Clark’s grandslam. The six runs against Harjes were unearned and the one against Zampirro also was unearned.

Carson got a runner to third twice, once in the second and once in the fourth. Casey Wolfe rolled out to end the second, and Dion Copoulos hit a comebacker to end the fourth.

Farnworth said he was undecided on his starter for today’s game. He said his decision would hinge on who Carson plays, but that it would be either senior Adam Whitt or sophomore Charlie Banfield.