Prep Baseball: Carson 10, West Rowan 0, 6 innings
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — Carson pitcher Josh Martin had nothing on Friday — except his teammates.
With Cougars behind him catching everything, Martin (4-0) extended his streak without allowing an earned run to 28 innings, and Carson beat West Rowan 10-0 to turn the NPC race into a free-for-all.
“I rely on movement, and I had zero movement on my fastballs tonight,” Martin said. “Whenever I got a pitch up, it got hit hard, but our defense was awesome. No individual shined tonight. We just had a great team effort.”
The bottom of the third when Martin was still clinging to a 1-0 lead told the story.
Justin Evans hit a missile. Carson center fielder K.J. Pressley tracked it down. Louis Kraft followed with a shot hit even harder. Pressley’s wheels and leather turned it into a very loud out.
“West actually swung the bats better than I expected, and Josh didn’t have the usual run on his fastball,” Carson coach Chris Cauble said. “But we made all the routine plays and we beat a good team. West was 4-0, and you don’t get to be 4-0 in our league unless you’re a good team.”
The biggest roar from Carson fans came when second baseman Chase Johnson fielded Kraft’s groundball to end the fifth. The skies above the West diamond were ominously black at that point, and one visible lightning bolt would’ve forced a delay. That out made it an official game.
The teams played the sixth in the rain, and Bryson Prugh pummeled a two-run homer for a 10-0 lead. When automatic reliever Austin Bracewell — who also has a 0.00 ERA — got the Falcons out in the sixth, Carson (8-3, 3-2) owned a 10-run rule victory over the NPC frontrunners.
“Carson is a good ballclub, and hats off to ’em,” West coach Chad Parker said. “They took advantage of our mistakes — and they didn’t make any.”
It was a more competitive game than the score sounds, and for the first four innings, every pitch thrown in front of an overflow crowd was tense.
Martin dodged trouble in the first when Evans lined out viciously to right fielder Greg Tonnesen. Martin got Bryce Burns on a comebacker to end the second after the Falcons had loaded the bases.
Left-hander Evans started on the mound for West, and he had the Cougars off-balance and bouncing lots of weak groundballs early.
Carson broke through in the third when Dylan Carpenter, who reached on a bunt single, scored when Burns booted a bouncer to the right side that might have been an inning-ending double-play ball.
In a zany top of the fourth, Carson managed to make it 2-0 on Chase Johnson’s well-stroked RBI double.
“Coach was telling us to let the pitches travel farther and go to right field,” Johnson said. “I made that adjustment, and the double felt good coming off the bat.”
Two outs in the fourth came when Kraft, West’s first baseman, made a rolling catch of an attempted squeeze by Austin McNeill. The third out came when left fielder Matt Miller threw out Johnson at the plate on Carpenter’s hit.
But everything fell apart defensively for the Falcons during Carson’s six-run fifth. Pressley, Martin, Connor Bridges and Prugh rapped singles in the inning, and McNeill whipped a double to the Blue Monster in left field.
“Our pitchers threw well,” Parker said. “We just didn’t make plays we needed to make to get off the field. You play a team like Carson, you’ve got play clean.”
West Rowan (5-5, 4-1) is still in very good shape in the NPC standings.
Carson has lost one-run games to East Rowan and West Iredell but beating the Falcons puts the Cougars back in the hunt for a lot of goals.
“We’ve had some very tough losses this year,” Johnson said. “We needed to come out and make a statement tonight, and we did that.”
NOTES: Next for West Rowan is a visit to West Iredell. … Carson goes to North Iredell.