Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 9, 2013

CHINA GROVE — Carson baseball coach Chris Cauble never stopped waving his arm, and Greg Tonnesen never even slowed down.
A routine base hit became a “Little League homer” for Tonnesen, who circled the bases on two wild throws after whacking a solid single.
Carson beat Salisbury 6-2 on a woefully windy Friday afternoon, but it was only 4-2 when Tonnesen came to bat in the bottom of the fifth with one out and a baserunner at first.
When Tonnesen singled, the throw toward third got away, and then a throw home sailed off-course as well.
“As soon as I saw the throw going to third base, I was taking second,” Tonnesen said. “After that, I never stopped. I was just watching Coach, and he didn’t stop me. I kept going and going.”
Tonnesen kept going and going — and Salisbury was gone.
The Hornets (1-2) had played a solid game, but that one zany breakdown ended their hopes of an upset.
“We’re not good enough that we can turn it into a circus, not even for one play,” Salisbury coach Scott Maddox said. “We had that bad play and we also had a baserunning blunder that cost us a run. Take away those, and it’s 4-3 going to the seventh instead of 6-2, and that puts a lot more pressure on their pitcher.”
Carson got six strong innings from junior right-hander John Daugherty (2-0) and beat Salisbury for the seventh straight time. The Hornets’ last win over the Cougars was 4-3 on opening day of the 2008 season when SHS had Alex Britt on the mound and a lineup card that included Russ Michalec, Lee Dupre, Forrest Buchanan and a quartet of guys named Ijames.
Appalachian State signee Brian Bauk started on the mound for the Hornets, so the Cougars (4-2) knew it wouldn’t be easy to stop their two-game losing skid.
“Everyone we’ve played, we’ve seen their top pitcher, and we’ve got to use that to learn and get better,” Carson coach Chris Cauble said. “We saw another quality arm today, but I thought we had some of our best focus we’ve had in the first inning.”
Dylan Carpenter got Carson’s three-run first started when he was hit by a pitch with one out. He stole second, took third on Heath Mitchem’s single, and scored on an errant pickoff throw. A two-out double by Daugherty and a run-scoring single by Tonnesen gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead.
“Bauk’s our best guy, but he struggled some in that first inning — and that happens,” Maddox said. “After that, he settled in and he was good.”
Salisbury had taken a 1-0 lead in its half of the first on back-to-back, two-out, opposite-field hits by Chance Bowden and Parker McKeithan.
The top of Salisbury’s lineup is formidable. All of Salisbury’s five hits came from the 2-3-4 spots in the lineup. Bauk and Bowden had two apiece.
“Their top is strong,” Cauble said. “John threw very well again, but he can’t be walking their No. 9 guy (freshman catcher Will Steinman) twice, so he has to pitch to those guys.”
Daugherty had battles with the Hornets’ top in the first, third and fifth innings, but he was able to catch his breath a bit in the second, fourth and sixth.
“I just tried to work the strike zone in and out and make sure I kept the ball low,” Daugherty said. “I trusted my defense.”
Daugherty and McKeithan were once teammates at Knox Middle School, and they squared off in two key at-bats.
Daugherty struck the burly McKeithan out on a 3-2 curveball with two men on to end the third. Then he struck him out again on a high fastball well out of the strike zone to end the fifth with two more aboard.
“I know Parker very well,” Daugherty said. “He’s even taller than me — and lots bigger.”
Daugherty (2-0) also pitched well against Northwest Cabarrus and East Rowan, so he’s becoming a key component of the Cougars’ staff. Ben Gragg also looked sharp when he tossed a scoreless seventh.
Offensively, Daugherty knocked in two runs. K.J. Pressley stole two bases. Tonnesen, Mitchem and Kaison Denton had two hits apiece.
“This was a step forward for us,” Tonnesen said. “It was good for us to have a quality game against a quality pitcher.”