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Prep Baseball: Carson loses in 4th round to Crest

Cougars' season comes to a close

ALLISON LEE ISLEY FILE PHOTO/SALISBURY POST … Maddux Holshouser was Carson’s starting pitcher on Friday night at Crest.

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

BOILING SPRINGS —  The last baseball team standing in Rowan County, the Carson Cougars, ended the season with a 3-2 loss at Crest on Friday night.

It was a season of big things for the Cougars, but they lost on a little thing — a safety squeeze bunt by Jack Millen in the bottom of the sixth inning. Carson relief pitcher Cameron Prugh was able to field the ball up the first-base line and tag Millen, but he had no play at home and pinch-runner Wyatt Guntis scored the decisive run for the top-seeded Chargers (25-2). It was the first earned run allowed all season by Prugh (4-1). Millen had struck out on a bunt attempt earlier in the game.

Seeded fifth in the 3A West bracket, Carson won three playoff games, including a road victory at Marvin Ridge, before bowing out. That matched the 2014 team for the longest run by the Cougars.

The Cougars (24-6), who started off 1-3, tied the school record for wins set in 2013 and matched in 2014. After losing to Myers Park on March 5, the Cougars went 23-3.

Carson had the lead early on Friday Brycen Holshouser started the game with a hit, Prugh moved him to second with a sacrifice, and Holshouser was able to advance to third on Owen White’s groundball to short. Luke Barringer delivered a two-out single, and the Cougars led, 1-0.

Carson starting pitcher Maddux Holshouser sailed through the first three innings, allowing only one hit, but Crest started figuring him out in the fourth frame. John Mitchell’s RBI-single in the fourth made it 1-all, and Holshouser needed a strikeout with the bases loaded to escape more damage.

Crest starting pitcher Nick Melton helped himself in the fifth with an RBI single, as the Chargers took a 2-1 lead. Prugh relieved Holshouser in that inning and got two outs to keep the deficit at 2-1.

Owen White  tied the game at 2-all when he led off the Carson sixth by pulling a solo homer to left. It was the senior’s second homer of the season and the ninth of his career. That blow ended Melton’s night on the mound, but he was relieved by C.J. Mayhue, who managed to get the final out of the sixth with two Cougars on base.

Luke Scism led off Crest’s half of the sixth with a single to right, and Guntis ran for him. Prugh got the first out of the inning on a popped up bunt attempt, but Riley Cash sent a single skipping back up the middle, and Guntis was able to race to third. Then Millen got his bunt down, and there wasn’t anything the Cougars could do about it.

In the Carson seventh, Brycen Holshouser singled to right with one out, but Prugh grounded sharply into a force play at second, and Crest needed only one more out.

White was up next, but he didn’t get to swing. He was walked intentionally. That was a somewhat unorthodox move as it put the potential go-ahead run for Carson on base, but Crest coach Steven Hodge wasn’t going to take any chances with White. It worked out for Crest when Mayhue quickly got ahead of Barringer 0-and-2, and eventually got him to lift a harmless popup.

Carson’s season ended against Crest for the second year in a row, and the Chargers have advanced to the West regional championship series for the second straight year. Crest will take on either A.C. Reynolds or T.C. Roberson for a berth in the 3A state finals. Those two Asheville area schools will be battling tonight.

It was the final high school game for White, a four-year star for the Cougars who set numerous school records as a pitcher as well as a hitter. He’s expected to be a high draft pick in June. It was also the last time in a Carson uniform for Prugh, Maddux Holshouser, Brycen Holshouser and Clayton Gilmore, all of whom started multiple years for Carson.

Carson won 79 games for coach Chris Cauble the last four seasons and won the North Piedmont Conference regular season and tournament titles this year.

NOTES: Maddux Holshouser struck out five. … Brycen Holshouser had two hits for the Cougars, with White, Barringer, Prugh, CP Pyle and Cole Hales getting one each. … White made the defensive play of the game at shortstop with a diving stop in the third inning. … A Cauble-coached West Rowan team swept Crest in the 2004 West regional championship series behind pitchers Patrick Adams and Wade Moore.

Carson      100 001  0   — 2    7    0

Crest        000  111  x    — 3    7     0

W — Mayhue (3-1). L — Prugh (4-1).

HR — Carson: White (2).

Leading hitters — Carson: Brycen Holshouser 2-for-4. Crest: Cash 2-for-2; Melton 2-for-3.

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