Prep Baseball: Cougars reach 4th round for 2nd time

Published 10:51 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2018

By Mike London

WAXHAW — Carson baseball coach Chris Cauble and senior pitcher Owen White have long memories, and they enjoyed major payback in the third round of the 3A state playoffs.

Carson was ousted at Marvin Ridge in the second round of the 2016 playoffs. Carson catcher Ryan Bearden was run over at the plate in that one, and Cauble eventually was ejected. White, a sophomore then, was on the mound and the Mavericks jumped on him early.

But the tables were turned on Tuesday in a third-round rematch that the Cougars had waited for patiently.  Fifth-seeded Carson scored three runs in the first inning and whipped No. 4  seed Marvin Ridge behind the shutout pitching of the 6-foot-3 White, who projects as a high MLB draft pick in a few weeks. White struck out nine and walked none, and the Cougars sailed to victory, 4-0.

“A little bit of sweet revenge for what happened to us down here two years ago,” Cauble said. “We got up early, and that was big. We beat a great team tonight, and we beat a great coach in Mark Mennitt. Owen was tremendous. Just tremendous.”

White (10-1) was tremendous, but he wasn’t at 100 percent. He’s battling a sinus infection, and he didn’t have his normal stamina on a humid night. But he still wasn’t looking for any bullpen help. He ended the game on his 94th pitch and secured a satisfying shutout.

“Marvin Ridge’s hitters had great approaches, they fouled off a lot of pitches, and they really made Owen work,” Cauble said. “He was getting gassed, but he was up to the challenge.”

Cameron Prugh, a senior who plays shortstop when White is on the mound, made a number of fine plays to help White. Third baseman Cole Hales made the play of the night, charging a ball that caromed off White’s foot, making a barehanded pickup, and getting the out at first.

The key hit was produced by freshman Cameron Pyle, who is universally known as C.P.

Brycen Holshouser led off the game with a ground-ball single through the left side. Prugh bunted and both runners were safe. When Marvin Ridge (22-6) made one of its five boots on White’s groundball to short, the Cougars had the bases loaded with none out. Carson got its first run when Luke Barringer grounded into a fielder’s choice. Then Maddux Holshouser walked to lead the bases for Pyle.

Pyle’s whistling base hit up the middle plated two, and the Cougars led 3-0. With White on the mound that basically meant victory. He wasn’t going to give up three. He’s allowed just five earned runs the last two seasons.

“Pyle steps up there and drives in two and it was just a huge hit for us and for him,” Cauble said. “He’s had a really good freshman season, but I think that hit might propel his career.”

In the fourth inning, White helped himself, driving in the 81st run of his record-breaking, two-way career. His two-out single to right plated courtesy runner Sollie Holshouser for a 4-0 edge.

White is Carson’s career leader in wins, strikeouts (357), hits, runs, RBIs and doubles.

“We tried to keep adding on in the later innings, tried to get some bunts down, tried hard to get that five-run lead, but we couldn’t do it,” Cauble said. “But the way Owen was pitching, we had enough.”

Pyle had three of Carson’s seven hits. Brycen Holshouser had two.

Carson (24-5) matched the school record for wins in a season. Carson went 24-4 in 2013 and 24-7 in 2014.

Cauble takes Carson into the fourth round of the playoffs for only the second time in school history. The 2014 team lost at home to Piedmont in the fourth round.

Next for Carson is a trip to top-seeded Boiling Springs Crest (24-2), the state runner-up in 2017 and the squad that eliminated Carson from last season’s playoffs in the second round. Senior Maddux Holshouser, a UNC Greensboro who has been nearly as good as White this season, will be on the mound for the Cougars.

“When the brackets came out, we could see that Marvin Ridge was going to be standing in our way,” Cauble said. “And we knew if we got through them, we would see Crest.”

Carson                 300   100   0   — 4    7    0

Marvin Ridge     000  000   0   — 0    4    5

W — White (10-1). L — Tyler D’Amico.

Leading hitters — Carson: Pyle 3-for-4, 2 RBIs; B. Holshouser 2-for-3. Marvin Ridge: Andrew Kerry 2-for-3.