Prep Baseball: Carson 17, A.L. Brown 2
By Paul Hershey
CHINA GROVE — With his team starting to get into a groove, particularly offensively, Carson head coach Chris Cauble didn’t want to see the Cougars take any steps backward during Wednesday afternoon’s nonleague game against A.L. Brown.
It’s safe to say that goal was accomplished in a 17-2 pounding of the struggling Wonders that was mercifully stopped after 41/2 innings.
The surging Cougars’ fourth straight victory was decided quickly when it sent 13 men to the plate in an eight-run second inning that made it 9-0. The Cougars (7-4) tacked on three more runs in the third and five more in the fourth.
“We just wanted to keep momentum going into Friday against West Iredell,” Cauble said.
“We didn’t want to come out and get into another hitting funk. We wanted to keep our hitting going forward and I think we did that today.”
Carson totaled 11 hits among 10 different players, led by Gunnar Hogan, who went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.
Starter Mitch Galloway was the beneficiary of all the offensive support, but didn’t need much of it. He allowed just two hits over four scoreless innings, while striking out four.
“Coach said ‘go out there and throw strikes and we’ll take care of the rest,'” the junior righthander said. “They’re not the strongest team we’ve played offensively, but you’ve still got to do your job and hit your spots. I thought I hit my spots and I know when they hit the ball my defense is going to do a great job.”
The onslaught started tamely with a run in the first without a hit.
Brown starter Michael Church walked the first two batters and Hogan followed with an unusual sacrifice bunt. He avoided a pitch that was high and inside, but couldn’t get the bat down. The ball struck it, but came off softly in front of the mound and both runners moved up.
It was an early indication of how things would go for both sides.
“That was very strange,” Cauble said. “I’ve never really seen one come off that angle off the bat even when it hits it. It usually goes one way or the other.”
Joseph Basinger followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Cougars on the board.
After a diving catch by K.J. Pressley in right-center ended the top of the second, four errors by Brown opened the floodgates to a disastrous bottom half for the Wonders (2-7), who surrendured six runs before recording an out.
Josh Martin led it off by reaching on a error, Connor Bridges singled and a hit batter loaded the bases. Pressley then sent a grounder to short for a possible double play. Instead, the ball bounced off of Caleb Jackson’s glove and into the outfield. Martin and Bridges scored easily and a throwing error cleared the bases.
After another booted groundball and a walk, Hogan sliced a two-run double to the right-field corner to make it 6-0.
“We had great approaches at the plate,” Cauble said. “We hit the ball to all fields today, which is a good sign and what we’ve been working hard on the last two or three weeks.”
A fielder’s choice off the bat of Basinger plated another run, Galloway’s RBI single made it 8-0 and an RBI groundout by Bridges scored the final run of the frame.
Church lasted just 1 2-3 innings and was charged with all nine runs, but eight of them were unearned. He fell behind a lot of batters, but the Wonders couldn’t take advantage of chances to limit the damage.
“With this being a nonleague game we’re not going to run one of our starters out but we’ve just got to do the simple things and we’re struggling with doing that right now,” said Brown assistant coach Brian Goodnight, who again subbed for Empsy Thompson. “It’s hard to pitch when you get groundballs and your teammates kick it around.”
Basinger added a three-run double in the third inning before the Carson reserves got into the act in the fourth as Cauble used everybody on the bench and challenged the scorekeepers. Brent Black had an RBI double, Scottie Hinson got a run-scoring single and Caleb Trexler drove in another with a sacrifice fly.
“(18 players) got into the game in some form and that doesn’t happen very often,” Cauble said. “It was a good all-around team win. We’ll take it and move forward from here.”
When the Cougars’ last run scored on an error, it looked like a football score at 17-0.
Brown managed to get a safety —or in this case two runs — in the fifth before reliever Trexler got the final three outs.