F&M Bank Classic: Robinson 4, Carson 1

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 12, 2012

By David Shaw
KANNAPOLIS — Carson’s opening night venture in the F & M Classic was, in simplest terms, a swing-and-a-miss.
The Cougars fanned 11 times against J.M. Robinson right-hander Philip Perry in Thursday night’s 4-1 loss.
“If we had put it in play those 11 times, you never know what could have happened,” CHS coach Chris Cauble said at CMC-NorthEast Stadium. “Every time we put it in play, they kind of bobbled it. We can’t strike out 11 times and think we can win.”
Carson (8-7) managed only five hits against Perry — four singles and Bryson Prugh’s lost-in-the-lights double in the bottom of the seventh inning. Perry, a junior with a dazzling assortment of sneaky-quick fastballs and tight curves, didn’t walk a batter and pitched a complete game and earned his fourth win for the Bulldogs (11-5).
“If we had taken better approaches at the plate — and taken more pitches — we might have done better,” said Prugh, who went 2-for-3 and drove in Carson’s run. “We kept trying to hit it as hard as we could. We ended up with a lot of key strikeouts with guys on base.”
Robinson coach Jason Sarvis had nothing but praise for Perry, who retired the first nine Carson hitters and was aided by two double plays.
“From the first pitch on, he was very good tonight,” Sarvis said. “He kept them off-balance. But then he’s had good numbers all year. I think he’s out to prove something. He’s a bulldog on the mound. You’re gonna get his best every time.”
Carson had a favorable matchup with righthander Josh Martin on the mound. The senior had won four of his first five decisions this spring and entered the game with a microscopic 0.51 ERA.
“He actually pitched pretty well,” said Prugh, Carson’s sophomore backstop. “Wherever I called for it, he threw it. They just hit the ball really hard.”
Martin retired the first two men he faced in the top of the first before walking Robinson shortstop Hunter Kocher on four pitches. After cleanup hitter Austin Bundy was hit with a pitch, Martin ran into double trouble — yielding consecutive two-base hits to Brody Koerner, Ryan Lefler and Jake Glunt. When the smoke finally cleared, the Bulldogs had a 4-0 lead.
“In the second inning he told me his arm wasn’t as live as it normally is,” said Cauble. “So he wasn’t getting the movement he usually gets. Sometimes your arm just doesn’t have it.”
Added Prugh: “The only thing he did wrong that inning was he left some balls up. They jumped on them.”
Sarvis agreed. “It looked like we got some good pitches that we could drive,” he said. “Fortunately we did that with runners on base.”
Carson reached Perry for its run in the last of the fourth. Dylan Carpenter opened the inning with a bloop single to center and reached second base on an infield error. Prugh followed with a run-scoring single that settled into left field. Two pitches later a double play ended the threat.
“I thought we were pretty focused,” Carpenter said after collecting two singles. “But we need to not swing so hard on oh-and-2 counts. I don’t know why we were trying to kill the ball all night.”
Carson’s two-strike approaches helped make Perry the game’s No. 1 star. “If we just put the ball in play,” Cauble beefed, “the outcome might have been different.”

NOTES: Carson will face Northwest Cabarrus at 4 p.m. today. … The bottom three batters in Carson’s lineup went 0-for-7 with seven strikeouts.