Carson baseball sweeps Galena
Carson High is in the upper half of the Northern Division 1 standings going into the final games of the season for the first time in a long time after Monday’s sweep of Galena — and the wins were as different as night and day.
In the opener, Carson rolled to a 12-4 lead before holding on and winning 12-10. In the nightcap, Galena led 6-1 after three only to see the Senators score four times in the bottom of the sixth for a 7-6 win.
It was the first time since 2010 that the Senators swept Galena, and it was the first time since Bryan Manoukian took the reins that Carson has beaten the Grizzlies. The sweep also ensures that for the first time in three years the Senators will enter the playoffs with a winning record.
Offense was the name of the game on Monday, as the Senators pounded out 30 hits thanks to 5-for-7 efforts by Conner Pradere, Kyle Krebs and Jace Keema plus a 4-for-6 effort by Brandon Allen.
“We know we can play with anybody if we stick to our game,” Manoukian said. “I think the last couple of games we’ve been able to make plays on defense and offense late in games, and that is huge for our confidence.
“Offensively, I think we’re finally starting to adjust to the speed of the game. We hit the ball well all day.”
Both games kept the crowd on both sides on the edge of their collective seats.
In the opener, John Holton was tagged for three first-inning runs thanks to a Tom Lichty off-field HR. Until he came out with a runner on in the top of the seventh, the Grizzlies managed just four more hits off Holton.
“I felt I threw good (overall),” Holton said. “I don’t know about the first inning. Sometimes it takes a while to get dialed in.”
Fortunately, Carson’s offense pounded Galena ace Nate Barry and the slew of relievers that Galena put in the game.
The Senators had two straight three-run innings to open up a 6-2 lead.
In the second, Conner Pradere had a two-run single, and Seamus Burns had a two-run bloop double in the third.
The fourth inning saw the Senators score five times to open an 11-4 lead, and as it turned out that almost wasn’t enough.
Singles by Pradere, Josiah Pongasi and Krebs loaded the bases with no outs. Allen walked to force in Pradere to make it 7-4. Holton helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly to score Pongasi for an 8-4 lead. Terek Been laced a run-scoring double to make it 9-4. After a strikeout, Keema singled in two runs to complete the uprising.
Keema made it 12-4 in the sixth when he slammed a line drive that went off the glove then face of Galena reliever Turner Gustafson, who was later taken to the hospital with concussion-like symptoms.
Holton departed after giving up a double to Mateo Lemus leading off the seventh.
“He was at 100ish in pitches,” Manoukian said.
After that it got real ugly.
Reliever Cody Azevedo faced five batters without getting a single out, and then Manoukian went to Been, who hit the only batter he faced and uncorked two straight wild pitches. Manoukian brought in senior Josiah Pongasi, who walked Travis Bohall, but retired the next three batters to pick up te save and avoid what would have been the implosion of the year.
“The game spiraled so fast, I didn’t have time to get (Bryce) Moyle warmed up,” Manoukian said. “I didn’t want to have him come in with just eight warm-up pitches … Josiah came up big for us.”
In the nightcap, Galena took a 6-0 lead off Allen in his three-inning stint, five of those runs came in the second on just one hit, a two-run single by Parker Kittilsen. Allen walked three and hit two in what was his ugliset inning of the season.
Carson scored one in each of the next three innings on singles by Krebs (twice) and Keema before going ahead with four in the sixth.
Moyle (single), Pradere (scarifice fly) and Pongasi (double) each drove in a run to tie the game. Pongasi scored the game winner on a wild pitch.
Manoukian went to his ace lefty Moyle, who allowed two baseruners before saving the game for Been, who worked two scoreles innings.
“Bryce threw what amounted to his bullpen,” Manoukian said. “He will still start against Douglas on Thursday.”
NOTES: Former Carson and Galena head coach Ron McNutt was honored in between games of the doubleheader, and was given a gift from both teams. McNutt also threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the second game … Carson hosts Douglas on Senior Night at 7 p.m. Wednesday and then visits the Tigers Thursday at 3:45.