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Prep baseball: Carson tops Salisbury in offensive battle

By Marny Hendrick

sports@salisburypost.com

KANNAPOLIS — Not a lot was a stake Saturday afternoon at the A.L. Brown baseball field except competitive spirit, but Carson and Salisbury put on a hitting clinic nonetheless as the Cougars pounded out a 13-10 win.

The victory gave Carson (9-4) 7th place in the 6th annual F&M Classic tournament while the Hornets (5-7), the defending champions of the event, were unable to post a win this year. The two teams put on an offensive show in the process, combining for six doubles, two triples, three home runs and 26 total hits.

Faced with a 10-6 deficit heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Cougars batted around and exploded for six runs on four hits off Hornet pitchers Joe Steinman and Harrison Smith to grab a 12-10 lead it would not relinquish.

“I had all the faith in the world that we would come back,” said lead-off man Michael Morrison who led the assault with a 3-for-4 game, including a triple, homer, 4 RBIs and a pair of stolen bases. His three-run homer in the big sixth came on the first pitch he saw from Salisbury reliever Smith, putting Carson up 11-10. “I just tried to stay up the middle with it and have a good approach.”

A strong wind blowing out to the 300-foot short porch in right may have aided the key shot by Morrison but there was no doubt when it left his bat. Slugging senior catcher Ryan Bearden had an even more impressive three-run homer back in the first when he tied the game at 3-3 with a 350-foot shot to dead left against the wind. His RBI double in the decisive sixth capped a 3-for-4 game with three RBIs to make the score 12-10 then the Cougars added an unearned run in the sixth for the final margin.

“This team always fights to the end no matter what,” Bearden said of his team’s comeback. “No matter if we are up or down we are never out of a game. We have always got a chance to get the win.”

Cougar starter Cameron Prugh (2-0) was touched up for all 10 Salisbury runs in the game but he combined with reliever Brandon Newton to stuff the Hornets on just one hit over the final three innings. Newton pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh to earn his first save.

Salisbury broke out early with a flurry of runs in the first four innings, thanks to a career game from sophomore first baseman Chandler Lippard. His two-run double in the first made it 3-0 then a towering fly to right in the fourth cleared the fence in right for a three-run homer to break a 6-6 tie and build a 10-6 Hornet lead. It was the first home run of the season for the team as Lippard posted five RBIs with his two doubles and the homer.

Freshman catcher Bo Rusher continued his hot hitting streak with a 3-for-5 day including two RBIs, giving him a team leading 16 for the season.

Hornet coach Mike Herndon noted that despite no wins in the tournament his team gave him all he could ask.  “This tournament is now going to define us,” he said. “We are going to learn from it and move forward into our conference play. Playing good competition in the tournament is only going to make us better.”

Carson coach Chris Cauble was glad to see his team battle back to get the win. “We tried to come out focused today and a lot of bad stuff happened in the beginning,” he said. “I am glad to see our team didn’t quit. They hung there and kept hitting the ball.”

Cauble noted that his team faces three games a week in each of the next three weeks and the tournament helped prepare his pitching staff for the games to come. Both Carson and the Hornets are co-leaders in their respective conferences when league play resumes next Tuesday.

Salisbury plays Lexington twice next week in the CCC while Carson face SPC foes Cox Mill and Central Cabarrus. Both have a non-league game sandwiched in to the schedule as well next week.

Tournament notes — The F&M Classic, hosted by the Kannapolis Intimidators, wrapped up Saturday evening with J.M. Robinson edging A.L Brown 9-8 in the fifth place game on the strength of an 8-run second inning. South Rowan won the championship Friday night at Intimidator’s stadium, 11-10 over Lake Norman in 8 innings. Northwest Cabarrus took third place with a win over Monroe Parkwood. South Raider Tyler Shepherd was named tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Salisbury 321  400  0 — 10  13  2

Carson       312  061  x — 13  13  3

W — Prugh (2-0),  S – Newton (1).   L — H. Smith (1-3)

Leading Hitters —Salisbury: Chandler Lippard 3-for-4, (2-2B, HR), 5 RBI; Bo Rusher 3-for-5, 2 RBI; John Yang 2-for-3, RBI, Alex Link 1-for-4, (2B), RBI. Carson: Michael Morrison 3-for-4 (3B, HR) 4 RBI, 2 SB; Ryan Bearden 3-for-4 (HR, 2B) 3 RBI; Logan Ridenhour 3-for-4 (2-2B) 2 RBI; Brandon Mock 2-for-3, RBI.

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