Prep Baseball: Carson 8, South Rowan 5: Basinger's bash wins it
By Paul Hershey
CHINA GROVE — South Rowan coach Thad Chrismon said it would have been “playing with fire” to walk Joseph Basinger in the seventh inning of a tie game Friday night.
While he’s probably right about that, the way Carson’s clean-up hitter was swinging there was a good chance of flames either way.
After blasting a two-run homer in the fifth inning, Basinger followed up with a walk-off, three-run shot with two outs in the seventh to give the Cougars a thrilling 8-5 victory in a wild see-saw battle with their rival that could’ve gone either way.
“A lot of emotion,” Carson coach Chris Cauble said. “We expected nothing less. We jumped on them in the first game and I knew that that would be in their mind and they would come out and it would be a dogfight. I’m glad we came out on the right end of it, but either way it would’ve went both teams laid it on the line.”
The Cougars (11-6, 8-3) solidified their hold on third place in the NPC by rallying from 2-0 and 4-2 deficits before Basinger’s heroics capped it off.
“The team did great keeping their head up even when we got down,” Basinger said. “Even when they started hitting home runs we did a great job fighting because we knew from the get-go that we’re in a situation to come out here and go far in the playoffs.”
With Kyle Youngo on second with one out in the seventh, Chrismon intentionally walked Gunnar Hogan but allowed starter Matt Miller to pitch to Basinger instead of loading the bases.
“We thought about that,” Chrismon said. “We do that and we’re a wild pitch or four balls away from game over. You still have a solid hitter behind him. We felt if Matt kept the ball down and hit his spots there was a good chance to win.”
The situation was complicated by the fact that in his previous at-bat against Miller, Basinger had crushed a homer to straightaway center.
“As a coach you go by your gut,” Cauble said. “In his mind, he might’ve thought (Basinger) was going to go up there and try to muscle it and not hit it as good. I don’t thing there was a right or wrong answer there.”
Either way, the result was Basinger jumping on juicy first pitch over the middle of the plate and putting over the left-field fence to set off a celebration that finished with him being doused with the water jug on a cool, breezy night.
“I was looking for a fastball I could drive to get the runner on second in,” Basinger said. “That one felt like it came off the bat a whole lot better than the first one.”
It was the last of four home runs the teams combined for in the game. Preston Penninger gave the Raiders (9-6, 5-4) a 2-0 lead with a solo homer in the second and Dylan Goodman made it 4-2 with a two-run shot in the fifth. The teams also totaled four doubles in the game.
But South also showed its ability to manufacture runs.
Goodman walked to lead off the game and eventually scored when he took off from third base and forced Carson starter Gavin Peeler into a balk.
Facing its first deficit of the game, South got the tying run in the sixth without a hit. Leading off, Miller reached second base on a throwing error and eventually scored when Dillon Parker executed a squeeze bunt with men on first and third and one out.
“We don’t want to have a situation where we don’t get anything out of it,” Chrismon said. “Dylan’s a good bunter and Matt can run well so it’s a smart play. It’s part of what we’ve worked on as a team with situational offense.”
The Cougars countered, though, with extra-base hits.
Pressley, who was out of school on Thursday with strep throat, and Kyle Bridges each hit RBI doubles in the third to tie it at 2-2.
After South took the lead back on Goodman’s homer in the fifth, Hogan capitalized on a South error with an RBI double off the fence in center and Basinger followed with his first homer.
The Raiders did get the tying run in the sixth, but Ethan Free came on in relief to get an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
Pressley then reached to start the seventh when South rightfielder Dillon Parker got to a flyball ball down the right-field line, but couldn’t hold on as he fell to the ground. Youngo then bunted into a forceout and advanced to second on a groundout to first, setting up the strategy at the end.
Miller went the distance, allowing eight hits and striking out eight. Penninger went 2 for 2 at the plate, while Parker Hubbard doubled and scored on Goodman’s homer.
“If there’s anything disappointment it’s the fact that these kids didn’t get rewarded for the effort that they gave,” Chrismon said. “They played their butts off and left it out on the field and that’s all we can ask for. We prepared the right way, we were focused, we went after it the right way so there’s not much to be disappointed with.”
Josh Martin pitched four innings in relief of Peeler. Cauble made the switch after Peeler gave up the homer to Penninger on a 2-0 pitch and then fell behind again to the next batter. Martin allowed just three hits over four innings, but surrendered the two-run homer to Goodman.
“(Peeler) was kind of laboring and Josh has been our bulldog,” Cauble said. “He left a couple pitches up that they made him pay on, but overall he pitched well. And Ethan came in in a critical situation and he’s starting to find his groove now at the right time.”
Basinger and Pressley each had two hits for the Cougars, who host West Iredell in a battle for second place on Tuesday.
“We’ve been playing to get a home playoff game and we’re in a situation now where we have a chance,” Cauble said.