Blueberg, Tucker lead Senators to 7-2 win
RENO — For the third time in as many starts, Carson High junior pitcher Chase Blueberg followed up a loss with a victory.
Blueberg, 3-0, scattered seven hits, and Dustin Dutcher, Gehrig Tucker and Dom Norton made key offensive contributions in a three-run sixth inning to lead the Senators to a 7-2 win over Reed Friday afternoon at Aces Ballpark.
The win evened Carson’s league record at 6-6 with matchups coming up against McQueen, Spanish Springs, Bishop Manogue and Douglas. Reed is also 6-6.
Both of Reed’s runs were unearned, and both runs were set up because of a wild throw to first base by Blueberg on a sacrifice bunt. Other than the two-run fourth, Reed only had two other runners get to second base or beyond. Blueberg fanned four, walked one and hit a batter in his route-going performance.
“I felt good,” said Blueberg. “I did everything I could to prepare for this game and it paid off. My slider away was working. That’s what got me a lot of outs.”
Blueberg retired seven of the last eight batters he faced, including two on strikes. Reed’s Joey Dice and Brandon Kozsuth, who combined to go 5-for-7 with three RBIs in Thursday’s win over Carson, were a combined 0-for-6 on Friday.
“Chase is turning into a nice pitcher,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “He is locating three pitches for strikes. I thought his curveball was better in the seventh than it was in the first.”
Blueberg got plenty of offensive support, as Jace Zampirro went 4-for-4 with an RBI, Tucker went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs, and Charlie Banfield had a run-scoring hit. Carson outhit Reed 12-7.
Carson scored an unearned run in the first when Tucker reached on an error and advanced to second on a single by Zampirro. Zak Harjes walked to load the bases. Banfield followed with a hard single to right to score Tucker. Zampirro was thrown out at the plate, as first baseman Mark Nowaczewski made a nice relay throw to the plate.
Blueberg escaped a jam in the second after Dylan Miller hit a one-out double. Alec Leighton struck out looking and then Blueberg plunked Brett Chaney. Casey Higgins hit a soft liner to first to end the inning.
Reed finally broke through in the fourth with two runs to take a 2-1 lead.
Kozsuth walked and advanced all the way to third when Blueberg threw wildly to first on Miller’s sacrifice bunt. Blueberg retired Leighton for the first out, but Chaney squeezed home Kozsuth from third, and Casey Higgins’ single scored Miller.
Reed’s lead didn’t last long, however, as Carson scored two of its own in the top of the fifth.
Norton walked and moved to third on Tucker’s one-out single. Tucker swiped second and was accidentally spiked by one of the Reed infielders who came down on his left hand. Norton scored on Luke Maher’s infield out to tie the game at 2, and Zampirro’s third hit of the game scored Tucker for a 3-2 lead. Nowaczewski, who blew away Carson in the seventh on Thursday, retired Zak Harjes to end the inning.
“Jace came in really early today to work on things,” Manoukian said. “We need him to get hot, and hopefully today was a good start.”
“It was nice to get some at-bats and putting the barrel on the ball,” said Zampirro, who is 6-for-8 in his last two games.
Reed threatened to tie or take the lead in the bottom of the fifth, but was turned away thanks to Norton and Wolfe.
With one out, Tyler Starley blooped a single to right. Nowaczewski followed with what appeared to be a run-scoring double to right-centerfield. Starley fell down between second and third, yet still tried to score on the play. T.J. Thomsen threw a strike to Norton, who in turn threw a strike to Harjes, who tagged the sliding Starley. Kozsuth popped out to end the inning.
“That was a game changer,” Manoukian said. “If their kid doesn’t fall down, they get for sure one and maybe two. That was a turning point right there. Normally that is a double cut, but Dom made a great throw; threw a strike.”
“I didn’t know he’d fallen down,” Norton said. “I just heard Gehrig (Tucker) yelling four. I thought there was no way, and then I saw him just rounding third base.”
“I heard the guy swear and I looked and he was on the ground,” Tucker said. “I knew we had a chance then.”
Wolfe opened the sixth with a single and stole second. Dutcher, after fouling off several pitches against the hard-throwing Nowaczewski, hit an infield single. Wolfe moved to third on the play and scored on Norton’s squeeze bunt to make it 4-2. After Thomsen walked, Tucker laced a two-run double to left to score two more runs for a 6-2 lead.
“Dutcher’s at-bat was big,” Tucker said. “He fouled off five or six pitches. That was the key. We got to look at a lot of pitches.”
In the seventh, Zampirro reached on an infield single and eventually scored to make it 7-2 when Wolfe’s one-out groundball was misplayed.
NOTES: Carson hosts Douglas at 2 p.m. Monday in the opening round of the Spanish Springs Invitational… Tucker has now hit in three straight games.