Prep Baseball: Lake Norman 7, Carson 0
By David ShawSalisbury Post
CHINA GROVE ó Carson’s baseball team was left out in the cold Tuesday night.
With a chance to strengthen their grip on fifth place in the NPC, the Cougars let an opportunity slip through their hands in a 7-0 loss to visiting Lake Norman.
“We went from being one loss behind third place to being two losses behind,” disappointed coach Chris Cauble said after sentencing his team to 16 post-game sprints ó one for each strikeout recorded by winning pitcher Nick Lomascolo. “A win tonight was extremely important. It just means we’ve got to come out ready to play on Friday.”
Carson (8-9, 6-6 NPC) didn’t look prepared or particularly sharp against Lake Norman (8-8, 6-6), a team it defeated earlier this season. The Cougars managed only one hit against Lomascolo ó a left-hander who pitched a complete game, threw four distinct pitches for strikes and often made Carson look April foolish.
“You could tell after the first couple of pitches he was hitting his spots just right,” Lake Norman catcher Eric Manser said. “He had them off-balance and got them to chase a lot of high pitches. It made my job easy.”
Lomascolo, a junior who averages 12 strikeouts per start, broke the school record for Ks in a game. He struck out the side in the third, fifth and sixth innings and had permitted only four Carson batters to reach base entering the seventh. Every hitter in Carson’s starting lineup fanned at least once, and only four outs were recorded on batted balls.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Cauble said. “If you don’t put it in play more than four times you’re probably not going to win.”
Winning coach Robert Little said Lomascolo (3-1) ó who walked two men and hit four ó was blessed with a pitcher’s best friend.
“Late movement,” he said. “He’s definitely a strikeout pitcher whose ball tails late. And he always tried to elevate late in the count, forcing them to change their eye level.”
Over on the Carson side, Cauble went through pitchers like disposable razors. Southpaw starter Zack Wright (1-5) faced only seven batters before yielding to Cameron Park, who surrendered five runs on five hits in two innings of relief. Most damaging were Manser’s two-run single to right-center that gave Lake Norman a 3-0 lead in the top of the third and Donnie Burt’s two-run double to the left-center gap that made it 5-0 an inning later.
“The way were swinging early and the way we were in our pre-game, I knew we couldn’t get in the hole too deep,” Cauble said. “So we were just trying to make changes to try to keep it close.”
Lefty Nich Glass followed Park and allowed only an unearned run. Matt Peeler walked both of the batters he faced before Jeremy Mullis worked out of a bases-loaded jam and stopped the bleeding with two perfect innings.
“We ended up leaving a lot of runners on base,” Little said. “Except against the last guy. I like the Mullis kid. I wish he played for us.”
Mullis, who spent the first five innings playing third base, blooped a leadoff single to center in the bottom of the second for Carson’s only hit. The Cougars’ best rally came in the last of the seventh, when Lomascolo hit three batters and walked Zack Grkman. But a strikeout, a caught-stealing and Zack Bottenfield’s game-ending lineout preserved the shutout.
“Luckily he started hitting us and gave us a chance to score,” Cauble said. “But that’s not what we wanted. We talked about it before and said we couldn’t strike out more than four times tonight in order to win. And we go out and only put three or four balls in play.”
NOTES: Carson visits third-place South Rowan on Friday. Ace Randy Shepherd (5-2, 1.01 ERA) is the Cougars’ likely starter. … Lake Norman’s Burt is the nephew of Jim Burt, a former defensive lineman for the NFL’s Giants and 49ers.
Contact David Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.