CHS seizes chances versus Douglas
MINDEN — Five runs on just two hits in the third and fourth innings were the difference Thursday afternoon for the Carson High baseball team in its 6-3 regular-season ending victory against rival Douglas.
Carson (14-8 conference, 17-14 overall) scored twice in the third inning then added three more runs in the fourth to take a 6-0 lead and then held on to secure its win at Tiger Field.
Carson is riding a five-game win streak into the Northern Division I Region Tournament, which opens Tuesday with the fifth-seeded Senators playing a 4 p.m. contest at No. 4 seed Galena.
“We finished on a winning note, hopefully that will carry over next week,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “But the playoffs are a different beast. Our league is very competitive so every team has got to take care of business if they want to win.”
On the other hand, Douglas (8-14 conference, 8-17 overall) saw its season come to an end. The Tigers wound up tied for eighth-place, only to lose the playoff berth to McQueen by virtue of a tie-breaker decision.
Bryce Moyle pitched six-hit ball over five innings to earn credit for the win. The sophomore finished with 6 strikeouts, 2 walks and 1 hit batsman.
“Bryce didn’t have his best stuff today, but he’s always competitive,” Manoukian said. “He kept us in the game, and fortunately, we were able to take advantage of some walks.”
Carson took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Connor Pradere hit a full-count pitch into the left-center field gap for a double, advanced to third on Josiah Pongasi’s single to left and Kyle Krebs followed with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Douglas avoided further damage in the inning when Zac Davies, Kindel Isham and Haydn Brown combined on an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Senators scored twice without the benefit of a hit in the third, thanks to five walks. Brandon Allen and Seamus Burns drove the runs home when they drew free passes.
“We weren’t able to overcome those walks,” Douglas coach John Glover said.
Carson added three more runs in the fourth to extend its lead to 6-0, aided by an error, a Cody Azevedo walk and Pradere’s bunt single to load the bases. Pongasi was hit by a pitch to bring one run home and Krebs greeted Douglas reliever Tanner Valenzuela with a two-run single to right field.
Valenzuela worked out of the jam, leaving two runners on base, and went on to pitch the final four innings. The left-hander allowed no runs on three hits and set down eight of the last nine batters he faced.
Meanwhile, the Tigers scratched their way back to within striking distance starting with a two-run rally in the bottom of the fourth.
Kaleb Foster reached on an infield hit to lead off the inning, Brown dropped a single into left-center and Spencer Trivitt walked to load the bases. After Moyle rang up a strikeout, Davies brought one run home on a ground out and Tomas Leitenbauer bounced an RBI single through the left side of the infield. The Tigers had the bases loaded, however, they were unable to capitalize when Moyle got his second called strike-three — this time on a full-count curveball that broke across the plate.
Douglas pulled to within 6-3 with another run in the fifth when Haden Keller reached on a high-hop infield hit and came around to score when Brown doubled down the left field line. The Tigers left runners stranded on second and third, however, as Moyle got a strikeout and fly out to Azevedo in center field.
John Holton came on to pitch in the sixth and retired six of the seven batters he faced to close out the game.
Even though the Tigers enjoyed a 7-6 advantage in the hit column, they weren’t able to capitalize when opportunity knocked.
“We outhit them,” Glover said. “We just needed a hit when we had those guys on base.”
After opening their conference season with 10 straight losses, the Tigers battled their way back into the playoff picture and had a six-game win streak end Wednesday night with their 4-3 loss at Carson.