Prep Baseball: Carson the clear-cut No. 1
By Marny Hendrick
OLIN — The Carson Cougars put a giant bow on their best-ever ever regular season Friday, rolling past host North Iredell 10-2.
The host Raiders had a lot to play for as they celebrated Senior Night and also needed a win to qualify for one of the North Piedmont Conference’s four play-off spots. But like the proverbial honey badger, the Cougars (21-3, 11-1) just didn’t care. They raked the Raiders for 14 hits and received a stellar complete game pitching performance from junior right John Daugherty (7-0).
Daugherty and senior lead-off hitter K.J. Pressley led the offensive attack that posted nine runs and eight eights in the first three innings alone. Pressley finished just a homer shy of the cycle while Daugherty went 4 for 5 at the plate and drove in a pair of runs. Bryson Prugh drove in a pair of runs in the first while number nine hitter John Patella also had two RBI’s as part of a two for four night.
“The kids were dialing it in tonight,”Cougar Coach Chris Cauble said. “They knew they were facing a quality pitcher and they came out focused tonight. I really appreciate them being focused.”
Carson’s line-up made North Iredell’s junior ace Drew Weibley look rather ordinary, chasing him after just two and a third with eight runs. Lefty Michael Lalonde came on in the third and was greeted with back to back triples by Patella and Pressley that plated three runs and made it 9-0.
“They are the number one team for a reason” said Raider Coach Nick Tomlin. “They came out with a lot more intensity and a lot more focus than we did and they just hit it.”
Daugherty finished the game with a four hitter, striking out seven and walking two against a very potent Raider offense. He had a no-hitter through three frames before yielding a solid single in the fourth to Luke Reynolds.
“That is probably the best I have pitched so far this season,” Daugherty said. “I was thinking about it (no-hitter) honestly, and was hoping to do it but it’s all right. A win is a win.”
North (9-12, 6-6) finally got on the board in the fifth on a triple by Austin Hartness and Lalonde’s single. Then they added an unearned run in the sixth. But it was not enough as they tied for fourth spot with West Rowan but lose out on a tiebreaker. Only an NPC tourney title keeps their season going.
For Carson, the historic season conti ues as top seed.
“It has been great so far,” Pressley stated, “but we want another banner.”
Daugherty had the same sentiments.
“We have had a heck of a regular season and we are definitely ready for the post-season.”
Cauble was a bit more specific about his Cougars. “We are not done. We want more and the kid’s are hungry.”