CHS able to ‘Holton’ on
He picks up save as Carson upsets previously unbeaten Damonte
Two days after suffering an embarrassing 10-0 loss, Carson High’s baseball team showed its resiliency by pulling off the biggest upset of the Northern Division I season.
Thanks to six strong innings on the mound by Bryce Moyle and the hitting of John Holton, Brandon Allen, Jace Keema and freshman Abel Carter, the Senators avenged their mercy rule loss to Damonte Ranch with a 7-6 win over the previously undefeated Mustangs Thursday night at Ron McNutt Field.
Carson improved to 10-8 while Damonte dropped to 17-1. Carson returns to action Saturday with a home doubleheader against Galena starting at 4 p.m.
“It’s what we’ve been saying all along, this is a pretty resilient group,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “We’ve always been able to put bad games behind us quickly.”
Carson did it by taking advantage of three Damonte errors to the tune of six unearned runs. Carson also made three errors, leading to three Damonte runs. The game was a tad on the sloppy side, but it had the feel and drama of a playoff game.
“It feels great,” said Holton, who drove in two runs and earned the save with a gutty seventh-inning effort. “Everybody contributed.”
It was Holton’s two-run single, his second hit of the day, that gave Carson a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Damonte scored a run in the top of the sixth, and might have had two, but Cody Azevedo’s strike to Kyle Krebs at the plate retired pinch-runner Jake Brown, who was trying to score from second on Zak Ukitis’ single.
Then it was time for Keema and Carter to step up in the sixth.
With one out, Keema pinch-hit for Moyle and blasted a triple to deep center. Carter, who was just called up to varsity on Tuesday, singled home a run to make it 7-4. Little did anybody know that would be the game-winning hit. Carter went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI in his debut.
“I was nervous a little,” Carter admitted. “Once I started playing it was just another game.”
“For a kid to come on that stage and come up with ultimately the game-winning RBI really is a testament to his toughness,” Manoukian said. “Every run is important. Their offense is so explosive. No lead is safe.”
Moyle, who was at 106 pitches, gave way to Azevedo in the top of the seventh. He yielded six hits and struck out six.
Tyler Oscarson walked, and Jared Blake followed with a one-hopper to Allen at third, who threw it over the head of Conner Pradere at second. Moyle, who had moved to right field, compounded the issue by throwing the ball over Allen’s head at third. The ball sailed out of bounds, allowing Oscarson to score and Blake to take second. Grant Goff walked, and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch.
Holton entered the game and fanned Daniel Page on a nasty 3-2 curve. Jonny Damon popped up to first for the second out. Tommy Dolan was walked intentionally to set up a force at any base, and to face Jacob Applebach, who was 0-for-3. Applebach walked to force in a run. Trevor Schryer, who had hit back-to-back run-scoring singles, popped up to end the game.
“John did an amazing job out there,” Manoukian said. “When they (Damonte) made a mistake tonight, we capitalized on it and made them pay. That is what you have to do against good teams.”
“We made a couple of errors that created some opportunities for them, and they took advantage to their credit,” Damonte coach Jon Polson said. “I’m proud of the way my guys battled back. We were down 7-4 and had our Nos. 3 and 4 hitters up. Their (starter) did a nice job. This game had playoff atmosphere.”
Four of the game’s first six runs were unearned.
A Carson error enabled Damonte to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, but back-to-back errors on balls hit by Josiah Pongasi and Krebs plus a single by Allen made it 3-1. Schryer, who was clutch all night for the Mustangs, lined a two-out single to left to tie the game at 3 in the fourth.
Carson took control with three in the fifth, everything happening after two outs. Pongasi doubled, moved to third when Krebs’ groundball was misplayed by Ukitis, his second error of the day. Allen doubled to right to score Pongasi, and Holton hit a two-run single for the aforementioned 6-3 lead. Each team scored in the sixth, setting the stage for a wild seventh inning.
Now, Polson will get a chance to see how resilient his squad is.
“We’ll find out,” he said. “We have tough games (at Manogue). We’re playing for a league championship in the next week. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble getting up (for Saturday and next week).