Prep baseball: Carson 12, West Rowan 6
By David Shaw
CHINA GROVE ó Carson’s baseball team may not look playoff-ready, but it was ready for anything Tuesday.
The Cougars brushed aside a two-game losing streak and wrapped up their regular season with a 12-6 win over visiting West Rowan.
“We kind of had a chip on our shoulder tonight,” outfielder Scott Ashby said after fifth-place Carson (15-9, 11-7 NPC) punched out 16 hits. “We had an attitude going for us. We knew we couldn’t lose three in a row going into the playoffs.”
Carson will open the 3A playoffs Friday at T.C. Roberson near Asheville. Fourth-place West (15-9, 12-6) launches postseason play Friday at Fred T. Foard on the outskirts of Newton.
“We can’t be playing like this if we want to make a run for it in the playoffs,” West outfielder Brantley Horton said. “We’ve got to play with more passion, more focus. We’ve got to shore it up.”
West committed four errors, contributing to four unearned Carson runs.
“This was a good reality check,” West coach David Wright said after Carson scored 10 runs on 12 hits in the first two innings. “What I’m most concerned about is our errors. Four errors, maybe five, and several mental errors where we didn’t make good reads on balls.”
West’s troubles began almost immediately. Facing 14-year old freshman right-hander Matt Miller, Carson’s first six batters singled. It’s next two ó Patrick Bearden and Will Misenheimer ó produced a sacrifice bunt and a sac fly.
“That was really good to see,” said shortstop Gunnar Hogan, who went 3-for-4 and reached base four times. “We’d rather have this kind of game and have good approaches at the plate. We were playing as a team, doing all the little things instead of the big ones.”
Ashby provided the game’s biggest hit, a three-run homer against West reliever Garrett White that gave the Cougars a 10-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
“I knew he was gonna throw the curveball,” said Ashby, whose fourth home run of the season cleared the fence in deep left-center. “That’s what they did the last time. Being senior night here, I wanted to do something good.”
Perhaps the only low moment for Carson came during West’s five-run third inning. Starting pitcher Nich Glass was disqualified for hitting Jon Crucitti with a pitch after the center fielder had been granted time and stepped out of the batter’s box.
“There’s no argument there,” Carson coach Chris Cauble said. “(The umpire) felt like he was throwing at him, so he did what he needed to do. But Nich wasn’t trying to hit anybody. The ball just got away from him.”
Misenheimer, a sidearm specialist, relieved Glass and yielded one run in three innings to earn the win.
“I think we were just tired of losing,” Ashby said. “We’ve lost a few in a row a couple times this year. We’re not gonna do that again.”
NOTES: Glass, who was seeking his sixth victory, is eligible to play for Carson on Friday. Cauble said his probable starter is Misenheimer or Glass. … Ashby had four RBIs, giving him 18 and placing him two behind Tyler Freeze for the team lead. … Win or lose, West was still going to be the fourth seed out of the NPC. It lost a coin flip with Mooresville on Monday. … Horton and Hayden Untz each had two-run singles in the West third. … Wright has penciled in lefty Zack Simpson (2-1, 2.83 ERA) as Friday’s starting pitcher.