SALISBURY — The Carson Cougars took a welcomed break from their conference baseball battles Monday afternoon and used a balanced effort to stop cross-county rival Salisbury 8-4.
Playing on the first really good weather day of the young season. Carson (3-1) combined shutdown pitching in the early innings with some fortuitous hitting to build a big lead on the host Hornets (1-3).
Starter Dillon Atwell and relievers Heath Mitchem and John Daugherty held the Hornets in check through the first five innings on two hits and one unearnbed run. At the same time, the Cougars scored three in the first and three more in the fourth to give themselves enough cushion for the win.
“We finally started hitting the ball today,” Mitchem stated. He had a pair of hits including a first inning double. “We haven’t been hitting it well lately so to come in here and get some hits off some good pitchers is great.”
Mitchem, the second of the Cougars five hurlers also got the win on the mound with two shutout innings. It was his first pitching appearance of the new season and despite a couple of walks he was glad to get back on the hill.
“I was a little rusty and I wish I had thrown a few more strikes,” he said. “But I had a good defense behind me.”
Carson opened the game with consecutive doubles by Daugherty and Mitchem off Salisbury starter Ryan Jones. Bryson Prugh was hit by a pitch then Colton Laws worked Jones for a bases loaded walk and a 1-0 lead. Six hitter Matt Saul then punched another double to the gap in right center to drive in two more.
Salisbury Coach Scott Maddox felt the lead off doubles in the first were both catchable fly balls that put his team in a big hole early.
“We just didn’t make the routine plays,” Maddox said. “We just need to find some people to make those routine plays for us.”
The Hornets got one run back in the first on an error, a Riley Myers single and a balk on Atwell. But they were unable to get anything else going until late in the game when they already trailed 8-1.
Carson added their other three spot in the fourth on RBI singles by Mitchem and Michael Morrison plus a sacrifice fly by DH Christian Houpe to make it 6-1. Single runs in the top of the fifth and sixth made it 8-1.
“They threw some pretty good arms at us today,” stated Cougar coach Chris Cauble. “We just wanted to to come out and battle more than we have. We did a much better job of putting ther ball in play and in going backside on them.”
The Cougars had to jump right into South Piedmont Conference play this season so Cauble was glad to get a chance to use a lot of pitchers and see some different looks against the non-league Hornets. They have a big SPC return match with East Rowan this Wednesday to try and avenge their only loss..
“We made some baby steps today overall,” Cauble stated. “and we have a big day of practice tomorrow before we take on the Mustangs.
Salisbury did make a run at the Cougars in the late innings as Chance Bowden banged two doubles and Myers had a pair of singles to put three more runs on the board. But they also left the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh to keep them out of a really big rally.
“Overall I was pretty pleased with our approach at the plate today,” Maddox stated, “But we sure wasted some real opportunities there late.”
The Hornets continue their non-league county battles this Thursday afternoon at South Rowan.
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