Prep Baseball: Carson 5, West Iredell 1
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — Cleanup man Joseph Basinger is hot again, and Carson is enjoying the ride.
Basinger mashed two doubles, including one that broke a tense scoreless tie in the fourth inning, and the Cougars went on to beat NPC rival West Iredell 5-1 on Tuesday.
Basinger opened the season on fire and had 17 RBIs in a hurry. Then he stayed stuck on 17 for several weeks.
Now he’s found it again. In his last four games, he’s 7-for-11 with nine RBIs, including some game-changers.
“I widened my stance, and I’m throwing my hands,” Basinger said. “I’m thinking bat-speed instead of power.”
The teams will finish the season tied for second behind East Rowan. Carson (12-6, 9-3) has won 10 of 12 after a shaky start. West Iredell (9-6, 8-3) has just one league game left — with winless Statesville — and it will make the cover of Sports Illustrated if the Warriors somehow lose that one.
Other heroes for the Cougars included Sam Williams, who powered a two-run homer, and pitcher Josh Martin (4-2), who started and finished. West Iredell came in batting .341 as a team, but Martin shut them down.
“I kept thinking we’d get to that kid,” West Iredell coach Randy Martin said. “But he just kept mixing it up on us.”
Josh Martin made one noticeable mistake — a hanging breaking ball that Sam Laws blasted out of sight. But it was the Cougars’ night, and the drive soared harmlessly foul down the left-field line.
“Josh Martin just went about his business like he always does and our defense (left fielder Gavin Peeler made a diving catch and a leaping catch), helped him,” Carson coach Chris Cauble said. “We had a whole lot of quality at-bats. Maybe we’re peaking at the right time.”
It was a factor that Carson already had seen plenty of West Iredell lefty Sean Grant. He beat them 4-2 in the teams’ first meeting.
“He’s good, but we were used to him,” Basinger said. “We knew what he’d throw.”
Carson sends a parade of right-handed sticks to the plate. All of them were thinking opposite field against Grant, and they had success.
“Carson cut down on their swings and had real good approaches,” Coach Martin said. “Grant couldn’t find his slider. They weren’t striking out.”
Going on contact, Basinger was thrown out at the plate on a groundball to first off the bat of Peeler in the second.
Carson made its first defensive mistake in the fourth, but Basinger, the catcher, pounced on a potential wild pitch and fired a strike to third base to cut down Garret Bell to end the inning.
Carson broke through in the bottom half. Gunnar Hogan reached on an error and raced home on Basinger’s double to right-center.
Williams, who stepped to the plate in the fifth with just five hits for the whole season, crushed a two-run homer to right-center on a 3-2 fastball for a 3-0 cushion.
“I was calm and relaxed up there, and he threw me three straight fastballs,” the No. 8 hitter said. “I stayed back and drove it. It had to be the hardest ball I ever hit.”
Kyle Youngo singled in K.J. Pressley to make it 4-0 before the fifth was done, and it became 5-0 in the sixth when Mitch Galloway poked an RBI single to right to plate Brent Black, a courtesy runner.
Travis Fetter tripled in a run in the seventh to spoil Martin’s shutout, but Martin kept his poise and finished the job.
“Fetter’s got my number,” the Carson hurler said. “He hit a double on a curveball, so I wasn’t going to throw him another one. Then he hit the triple on a fastball.”
Fetter couldn’t do it alone though, and, the Cougars celebrated one of their best wins.
“It was a good night,” Cauble said. “We beat a good team that’s become a very good rival, and we got all eight of our seniors into the game.”