Prep baseball: Carson 7, Salisbury 4
By David Shaw
CHINA GROVE ó Carson launched its third baseball season by keeping its nose clean Tuesday.
The Cougars played errorless ball, issued no walks or wild pitches and collected a 7-4 non-league victory over visiting Salisbury.
“We don’t have that power pitcher that’s gonna come in and strike out 10 or 12,” Carson coach Chris Cauble said. “But if they don’t walk anyone and get us ground balls, we’ll feel pretty good about it.”
Carson used four pitchers who induced 10 groundouts and fanned nine batters. Starter Jesse Park, a left-handed junior, used three distinct pitches and tossed three effective innings. Weston Snow pitched the fourth and was credited with the win.
Senior Nich Glass followed and was touched for a couple of fifth-inning runs before submariner Will Misenheimer tied it all up in a pretty package with two innings of perfect relief.
“We just wanted to come out here and do what we had to do,” catcher Tyler Freeze said. “We hit the ball hard and made all the smart, routine plays.”
Salisbury (0-2) found itself swimming against the current right from the start.
Losing pitcher Philip Tonseth ń a right-handed sophomore ó yielded an infield hit to leadoff man Zack Grkman in the bottom of the first inning. Grkman was balked to second base, took third on a flyout and scored on another balk, this one with two men out.
“It was a little disappointing,” Salisbury coach Scott Maddox said. “If you’re going to play baseball, there are things you’ve got to know. But we’re young and sort of learning on the job.”
Carson offered another opportunity in the last of the second when it scored three more runs, two of them unearned. The rally began when Zach Gragg belted a ground-rule double over the left-field fence and scored on an infield error. An RBI single by Kyle Bridges made it 3-0, and Grkman’s two-out hit up the middle gave the Cougars a four-run edge.
“(Cauble) just wants us to get on base any way we can,” Grkman said. “He wants us to take what we’ve learned in practice and execute in the game.”
Spence Carmichael’s line-drive single to left-center plated Salisbury’s first run in the third inning. But Carson answered with two more in its half and built a 6-1 lead when Tonseth balked home another run and Patrick Bearden smashed a run-scoring grounder into left.
Salisbury finished with six hits, including two apiece by Forest Buchanan and catcher Jordan Fuller. Buchanan, a starter in Maddox’s rotation, also pitched two innings of scoreless relief.
“I felt pretty good out there,” he said. “Fuller framed the ball and blocked the plate real well. We just made too many mental mistakes early on. That was probably the difference in the game.”
Misenheimer made it stick. He struck out three of the six men he faced. Two others grounded out and another ó Salisbury’s Jeremy Forbis ó lined out to Bearden, an avid off-season hunter who chose to play fall ball last autumn, at third base.
“Pat made a couple of highlight-reel plays,” Misenheimer said. “That builds confidence. I don’t think about batters or who I’m up against. I’m just trying to get ground balls, and without those infielders, I’m nothing.”
“Will’s a 6-foot-4, lanky kid,” he said. “When he first came to us he threw over the top, but we had a couple of pitchers just like him, so we tried to make him different. The coaches taught him how to drop down and come from the side ó and he bought into it.
“Now you can see he’s got confidence. He’s our closer, and he knows he belongs there. He’s got that mentality that he’s gonna throw it and you’re not gonna hit it.”