Prep Baseball: Carson beats Concord in school-record 13 innings
Published 11:59 pm Monday, May 4, 2015
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — The moon was full, and so were the bases when Carson’s Kris Peacock finally decided a memorable first-round game in the South Piedmont Conference baseball tournament here Monday night.
Seventh-seeded Concord and second-seeded Carson played 12 scoreless innings. The Spiders finally put together three singles for a run in the top of the 13th, but Peacock’s two-run single, with two outs and two strikes, lifted the Cougars to a dramatic, 2-1 victory in the bottom half of the frame.
“Tough game,” sighed Peacock, a youngster of few words. “I got lucky.”
The game brought back memories for Carson coach Chris Cauble of his team’s 3-2, 12-inning victory in 2012 against West Iredell — giving the Cougars a North Piedmont Conference Tournament championship. That was Carson’s longest game — prior to Concord’s visit on Monday.
“It went on forever,” said Carson center fielder Michael Morrison, who had a lot to do with the game lasting a while. Morrison made a perfect throw home in the 11th inning, cutting down a Spider trying to score from second, on a two-out base hit.
“I almost dove and it scared me when that ball fell in front of me,” Morrison said. “I thought they were going to score, but then (catcher) Ryan Bearden made a great tag at the plate. It’s great to have a big guy who can block the plate on a play like that.”
Concord lefty Tyler Thomas dodged bullets early. Carson smashed several rockets just foul or just short of fences, but Thomas got his team into the fifth still tied, 0-0. After Concord coach Jaymie Russ turned to ace Will Horsley in the fifth inning, Carson couldn’t do much. Horsley fanned 14 batters before he wound up taking a hard-luck loss.
Peacock started for Carson, threw 100 pitches and and worked seven scoreless innings before Cauble sent lefty Heath Mitchem to the bump. An exhausted Mitchem, usually the closer, was still around at the end and got the win.
“I was gassed,” Mitchem said. “I had to dig deep.”
Mitchem pitched six innings and threw 92 pitches. The Cougars needed all of them to beat a desperate opponent.
“Concord played as well as I’ve seen them play defensively,” Cauble said. “They had opportunities to put us away, but they couldn’t quite do it, and we managed to persevere. We got great pitching and made great defensive plays. That allowed us to stay in the game.”
Carson’s extraordinary plays included a diving catch in right-center by Brycen Holshouser to start the seventh inning and a charging play on a chopper by shortstop Owen White to end the ninth.
It looked grim for the Cougars after Concord scored in the 13th and looked worse when Morrison started the bottom of the final inning with a pop out. But Mitchem drilled a 3-2 pitch for a single, and White was hit by a pitch. Then the Cougars got a break, when Matt Saul squibbed a ball to the right side and hustled the Cougars into a bases-loaded situation.
After Horsley struck out Bearden for the second out, Cauble re-entered Peacock. Peacock was down in the count, 0-2, after a swinging strike and a called strike, but then he punched a single into right field. Mitchem jogged home from third base and White sprinted home from second, diving across the plate with a head-first slide that triggered a celebration.
“It’s funny how this game works,” Mitchem said. “A lot of hard-hit balls were outs tonight, but then we win this thing on an opposite-field flare with two strikes.”
Carson, which had to use two frontline hurlers, will play in the 5 p.m. Wednesday semifinal at Staton Field, against No. 6 seed Hickory Ridge.
(7) Concord 000 000 000 000 1 — 1 13 1
(2) Carson 000 000 000 000 2 — 2 9 2
W — Mitchem (1-3). L — Horsley.