When a team is building momentum, the last thing it needs is time off.
But, like it or not, the Carson Oil baseball team had to sit out four games this past weekend when neither Cleveland nor Sandy showed up for their scheduled double-headers.
“It’s frustrating for the guys because they were geared up to play,” coach Gerry Flink said. “We’ve had some trouble getting enough players out, and when we finally have enough, the other teams don’t show.”
After starting the season with a thud — losing its first eight games — Carson Oil has strung together eight consecutive solid efforts, accounting for four wins, and giving the team a confidence boost as it prepares for the July 17-21 district playoffs.
“Our goal is to build toward the district tournament,” Flink said of his team, which sits at 4-12 on the season. “Things are starting to get more intense, and we’re going to be expecting a little more from the players in the final five or six games.”
The unquestioned star in the early going has been pitcher/first baseman Heath Goin. The Hood River Valley High School junior has earned two complete-game wins over the past three weeks, and is one of the team leaders in batting with a .350 average.
Goin struck out 11 and 15, respectively, in wins over Sandy on June 19 and Benson on June 24, and gave up just six hits combined in both games.
Flink said Goin has had superb control of his pitches and has maintained excellent composure, which the team will need in the playoffs.
Also leading the way for Carson during its midseason revival have been infielder Jeremy Belcher (.370, 8 RBI), third baseman Ryan Pratt (.458, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and catcher Cam Lucas (.255, 8 RBI).
Flink said he has also been impressed with the improved play of sophomore outfielder/infielder Bryan Nishimoto (.258, 4 RBI) and centerfielder Danny Newton (.370, 2 RBI).
But, for the team to perform to its potential in the playoffs, it will need better production from senior Jarrod Fogle (.071 in six games), and juniors Pete Dills (.158 in 13 games) and Kyle Maurer (.239, 6 RBI in 15 games).
“I really believe we will show well when we put our best nine on the field,” Flink said. “Once we get all the guys out at the same time, we’re going to see some improvement.”
The team will also be looking for a lift from senior pitcher Jon Winnett, who has played in just four games thus far. Along with Goin, Pratt and Belcher, Winnett gives Carson Oil a formidable presence on the mound, which should keep them in every game as the season moves along.
“As long as we’re close in the late innings and have a chance to win, that’s all we can ask for,” Flink said. “And the last eight games or so, that’s what we’ve been seeing.”
The team played a double-header at David Douglas Monday and at Grant Tuesday, but results were not available at press time.