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Carson falls to Marvin Ridge in regional deciding game

Cougars fall in state 3A regional final

Wayne Hinshaw/for the Saisbury Post …
Carson’s Luke Barringer runs toward third base, completing a steal of the bag. He went on to steal home, tying the game at the time, 2-2.

By David Shaw
sports@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — The 3A state playoffs will continue without Carson’s baseball team.

Saturday night’s 7-6 loss gave visiting Marvin Ridge a two-games-to-one series victory over the Cougars in the Western Regional championship series.

“An ending is never good,” coach Chris Cauble said, moments after Carson (28-4) was excused from the post-season table. “I just told them, only one team is going to end the season with a victory — and that’s the eventual state champion. I think we learned a lot of life lessons along the way. People can count you out, but they can’t measure heart.”

Marvin Ridge (27-6) advanced to next weekend’s state championship series and will play at either UNC-Greensboro or at Five County Stadium in Zebulon.

“I’m so blessed. I don’t deserve to be in this position,” said first-year Marvin Ridge coach Trey Putman. “How many coaches get a group like this their first year and then get this opportunity? I’m truly humbled.”

The visitors built a 7-2 lead against Carson right-hander Aaron Misenheimer and reliever Logan Rogers. Carson gave its overflow crowd a nice parting gift when it scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh — two on a Cole Hales double to the left-field wall and two more when Luke Barringer walloped a home run to left-center.

“We were going to fight until we couldn’t fight anymore,” said Hales, a senior infielder who cracked a pair of doubles in his final game. “We weren’t done yet. We knew we still had that last inning.”

Barringer was among a handful of Cougars who struggled to put their record-breaking season to bed.

“It hurts, really hurts,” he said afterward. “Great year, we got ahead in the series and dropped the last two. That’s tough. Something like this never feels good. It hurt last year, but this is gonna hang around for a little longer.”

Misenheimer fell behind in the top of the first inning when Marvin Ridge’s Matt Duggan and Henry Jackson scored when Steven Gonzalez lined a two-run double to the gap in left-center. Carson responded against winning pitcher Tyler Hall with two runs in the last of the first. Hales doubled, Barringer reached on a fielder’s choice and Logan Rogers grounded an RBI-single into left field. With one away, Barringer stole home to tie the score.

“We talk about maximizing opportunities all the time,” Cauble said. “We usually get out-hit, but we usually end up with more runs on the scoreboard at the end of the game — and we almost did again tonight.”

Misemheimer withered in the playoff heat in the top of the third, when Marvin Ridge scored three times to take the lead for keeps. Gonzalez doubled home one run and teammate Max Hyman belted his first home run of the season, delivering two more and providing a 5-2 lead.

Two innings later, the Mavericks bolstered their lead with two additional runs. Carson Harris whipped a one-out, run-scoring single into left before Rogers fired a wild pitch that allowed Andrew Kerry to cross with MR’s seventh run.

“It still wasn’t over,” Putman said. “Carson competed this whole series. No lead is safe until the last out. They were as resilient a team as we’ve faced all year.”

Carson’s last charge up the hill began when Garrett Alewine coaxed a leadoff walk and Dylan Drive reached on an infield hit in the last of the seventh. Facing lefty reliever Drew Cognac, Hales stroked a one-out double that sailed over the left-fielder’s head and plated two runs. Barringer stepped in and hoisted an 0-1 pitch over the fence, drawing the Cougars within one.

“I was right in the middle of arguing with the umpire about a balk that wasn’t called,” said Barringer, who finished with the year with seven home runs. “I don’t remember much else. It just kind of happened.”

So did Carson’s somewhere-over-the-rainbow season, which ended abruptly when Cognac fanned Rogers and CP Pyle.

“I loved the way this team bonded,” Rogers said. “We were always there for each other. That turned the team into a brotherhood — and that’s forever.”

Marvin Ridge    203  020   0 — 7    9    1

Carson                200  000   4 — 6    7    2

WP — Hall (10-2). LP — Misenheimer (5-2). HR — Hyman (1), Barringer (7).

Leading hitters — Marvin Ridge: Gonzalez 3-for-4, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs; Hyman 2-for-4, HR, double, 2 RBIs. Carson: Hales 2-for-4, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs; Barringer 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 stolen bases.

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