Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 9, 2013

CHINA GROVE — Former baseball catcher Joe Garagiola penned “Baseball Is a Funny Game” decades ago, but a fresh chapter was added Monday at Carson.
Mount Pleasant beat the Cougars by a footballish 12-6, and it really didn’t seem to matter much to the Tigers that Carson (15-3) was expecting to add another notch to a school-record 12-game winning streak.
“They hit it good,” said Carson second baseman Connor Bridges. “No one’s hit us like that all year.”
Mount Pleasant had just gone 0-3 in the same Easter tournament in which Carson went 3-0, but like the man said, baseball is a funny game.
Mount Pleasant (7-8) lost 13-11 to Carson in that Easter event at Kannapolis’ CMC-NorthEast Stadium, scoring the most runs the Cougars had allowed all season — then Mount topped that total in Monday’s wild rematch.
“If they swing the bats like they did tonight, they can beat anybody,” Carson coach Chris Cauble said. “They hit missiles. Mount did a great job, and it’s not like they were doing it against our fourth, fifth and sixth pitchers.”
That’s what made the result so surprising. Carson sent standouts Colton Laws (3-2) and Dillon Atwell (5-2) to the mound. The Tigers hit everything they threw.
“We were nonchalant in the Easter tournament, and that can happen with the kids out of school,” MP coach Tommy Small said. “But we had a meeting about it, and then we showed up today. We swing the bats against Carson.”
Nick Coble homered off Laws in the first inning, but Laws struck out the side and appeared to have good stuff.
Carson took a 2-1 lead in the second when the Tigers messed up a double-play ball that got starter and winner Curtis Whitley in trouble. The Cougars got one run on an error and Connor Bridges hammered a double for the lead.
It was 2-2 going to the fourth. That’s when Mount got the critical blow, a bases-clearing triple by No. 9 batter Hunter Griffin. Small was just hoping Griffin might hit a sac fly. The last thing anyone expected was for him to pull a rope to the right-field corner against Laws, but he did, and then he came home to score after Carson threw it around.
“Laws was the best pitcher I’ve ever faced in my life,” Griffin said. “He was gassing it up there, but I relaxed and focused and I got the hit.”
Carson cut a 7-2 deficit to 7-4 in the bottom of the fourth, but a diving catch of Heath Mitchem’s liner by Blain Hooks kept the Cougars from getting more runs.
Bryson Prugh and Atwell drove in runs in the fifth, as Carson pushed within 7-6, but a hard groundball off Bridges’ bat was turned into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
With Mount leading 8-6, Hooks relieved and got the Tigers out of a jam in the sixth. Ben Gragg flied to right with two out and the bases loaded.
Then Hooks owned the seventh. He had a two-run single to key a four-run outburst in the top half. Then he struck out the side for the save.
“We didn’t execute defensively tonight,” Cauble said. “We’ve got to use this to refocus. Our motto now needs to be — let’s get back to work.”