For the second straight day, Carson High’s youngest player came through in a clutch situation on the mound.
Freshman left-hander Bryce Moyle got the dangerous Matt Santos to ground into an inning-ending double play in the top of the sixth inning and then retired the Tigers in order in the seventh Thursday to earn the win in Carson’s season-ending 4-3 Senior Night victory at Ron McNutt Field.
Douglas (16-11 overall, 12-10 league) now advances to the Northern Division I Region Tournament as the No. 6 seed and faces No. 3 Reed Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Sparks. Carson (14-16, 10-12) opens the tournament Tuesday at first-place Reno.
Moyle, who worked 2 1/3 innings to earn the save in a 7-2 win over the Tigers one day before, showed poise beyond his years on Thursday. He relieved Danny Guthrie with one out and runners on first and second in the top of the sixth with the score tied at 3. Dillon Lopez hit a hard groundball that handcuffed first baseman Jace Zampirro and Moyle was a bit late getting over to cover first. The error loaded the bases. Up stepped Santos, whose groundball to short started a 6-4-3 double play.
Moyle’s teammates rewarded his effort by scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth against tough-luck loser Cole Peck. After retiring the first two hitters, Brandon Allen singled and was balked to second. John Holton’s groundball up the middle resulted in a throwing error that brought Allen home to break the tie.
Moyle retired three straight to end the game in the seventh.
“I’ve been nervous,” said Moyle, who was on the JV squad until this week. “I thought more about trying to win the game for the seniors in their last home game. I wanted to win the game. I just tried to get ahead and make them hit the ball on the ground. I knew I had a good defense behind me.”
Carson coach Bryan Manoukian had no qualms about bringing his young pitcher in for the second straight day.
“I wasn’t worried,” Manoukian said. “He only threw 22 pitches Wednesday. He started on the JV team, so he’s used to high pitch counts. It was like a long bullpen. He threw real well.
“That was a fantastic baseball game. The atmosphere was charged. It’s a rivalry game, and guys love to play in games like that. I have the utmost respect for Douglas and its coaching staff and players.”
It was a disappointing game for the Tigers, who left 10 runners on base. Three times the Tigers left the bases loaded — in the first fifth and sixth innings.
“Carson played well,” said Douglas coach Bruce Jacobsen. “Cole pitched well and deserved to win. When you look back at this game, there were 15 different things we could have done and would have had a different outcome. We left the bases loaded a few times. We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed it. He (Moyle) is going to have a nice little career.”
The Tigers struck first against Carson senior starter Dustin Dutcher, who worked the first 4 1/3 innings.
Kaleb Foster was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a single by Cale Kynett. Lopez walked to load the bases. After a strikeout and fly out. Zach Davies followed with an infield single between third and short to score Foster. Peck was retired, and it was a true moral victory for the Senators to escape just down 1-0.
The Senators made it 2-1 when Gehrig Tucker doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Chase Blueberg’s infield out. Zampirro singled and then scored on Dom Norton’s deep double to center.
The Tigers evened the score at 2 in the third on a single by Santos. Carson went up 3-2 when Blueberg homered to left.
The Tigers tied the game in the fifth.
With one out, Lopez walked and scored on a Santos double. Exit Dutcher, enter Guthrie. Kyle Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in the tying run. Davies walked and Peck singled, but Guthrie got Dusten Plante on a liner to first to end the threat.