It took a couple of innings, but Carson finally got on track and then rolled on to a 12-2 victory against North Valley in its State Babe Ruth (13-15 year olds) Tournament opener on Sunday at Governor's Field.
Carson scored 12 runs between the third and sixth innings to erase an early 2-0 deficit and advance into the winners bracket of the eight-team tournament which continues through Friday.
Carson plays Sparks tonight in an 8 p.m. contest on Field 6 at Governor's Field. An improved performance will be needed to win this time, according to Carson manager Dan Leck.
"If we play like we did tonight, we won't win because Sparks has one of the better teams in the tournament," Leck said of a Sparks club that cruised to an 8-1 first-round win over South Reno on Saturday.
Some first-game jitters may have hindered Carson against North Valley. Then again, a little wake-up call may have been just what the doctor ordered.
"These kids haven't played a real game in four weeks. The other thing, over the last two years when we've played North Valley, the games haven't been all that tough. But you can never look past anybody at tournament time," Leck said. "Once they settled down and realized the severity of the situation, they were fine."
Carson gave up one error in each of the first two innings and North Valley capitalized on each to take a 2-0 lead. The host team came to life in the top of the third when shortstop Mike Handley, second baseman Ricky Adams and Scott DeFriez combined to turn a 6-4-3 double play that ended another North Valley rally.
Carson began to swing the bats and capitalize on North Valley defensive miscues in the bottom of the third. Carson scored three times in the third, thanks to two dropped fly balls. Then in the fourth, Jeff Hurzel singled one run home and Eric Melendez doubled home another as Carson extended its lead to 6-2.
Bubba Shoaf, DeFriez, Cameron Leck and Hurzel added RBI singles in the fifth to make it 11-2. The game would have ended on the 10-run rule in that inning except for North Valley right fielder Mitch Murphy's running catch of a long fly ball near the fence to retire the side.
Carson put the game away with one more run in the sixth when Adams singled to left to drive home the 12th run.
In all, eight different players contributed to Carson's 14-hit offense. Hurzel was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Adams 3-for-5, Handley 2-for-3 with three stolen bases and Melendez 2-for-3.
Jake Rasner pitched the six-inning distance to pick up the win for Carson. The 14-year-old right hander allowed five hits, walked three and struck out eight.
SOUTH TAHOE 12, ELKO 11
South Tahoe scored seven runs in the bottom of the third inning to come back and eliminate Elko from the tournament.
Elko scored seven runs in the top of the third to take a 9-4 lead, but South Tahoe answered back. Peter Maes hit a two-run double and A.J. Russo followed with a double of his own to trigger South Tahoe's third inning rally.
Elko cut the lead to 12-11 in the sixth, but Russo finished strong in his role as relief pitcher. Russo retired the side in order in the seventh and set down the final two batters on strikeouts to end the game.
Corey Tyler singled two runs home in the first inning to help South Tahoe take a 3-0 lead.