Vikings have no answer for Carson’s Dustin Buttner
With Paul Cagle III and Kyle Stone nursing minor injuries, the Carson Senators needed somebody to pick up the slack offensively.
Enter Dustin Buttner.
Buttner went 4 for 6 and drove in 11 runs with a grand slam and bases-loaded triple to lead undefeated Carson to a sweep of South Tahoe, 14-2 and 12-8, in a Sierra League doubleheader at Ron McNutt Field Saturday afternoon.
The win boosted Carson’s record to 7-0 over all and 3-0 in Sierra League, while the Vikings slipped to 3-4 and 0-3.
South Tahoe coach Matt Tillson bemoaned the slow starts in each game which put his team in big holes.
“The pitchers didn’t get ahead.” said Tillson, who was ejected late in the second game for arguing balls and strikes. “They were pitching from behind. We didn’t quit, though.”
Buttner’s first-ever grandslam in the first game capped a five-RBI game and enabled the Senators to close out the Vikings in five innings for the second straight game. His triple in the second game gave the Senators some breathing room heading into the seventh.
“He (Buttner) swung it really well,” Carson coach Cody Farnworth said. “It’s what we’ve been expecting when we got him swinging the other way. When they buy into it (going the other way), they do it. I don’t know what kids are thinking.”
Buttner said he didn’t feel any added pressure with two of Carson’s hitters out of action.
“Not really,” Buttner said. “I knew the team would pick me up no matter what. I wouldn’t have had the chances if the guys in front of me weren’t getting on base.
“I’ve never had that many opportunities (for a grandslam). I’ve never played on good enough teams, especially not in Little League. This (sweep) helps us know we can do. It also shows what we need to work on.”
That would be defense.
On Thursday, Carson made two errors late in the game, allowing South Tahoe to score an unearned runs, and in the second game on Saturday, a two-out error in the sixth enabled South Tahoe to score two more runs. Sophomore Conner Beattie was on the mound each time.
“We have to get better defensively,” Farnworth said. “We can’t extend innings (with errors). We have to make routine plays.”
In the opener, South Tahoe struck first when Derek Holmgren slugged an opposite-field homer to right off David Charles, who threw four solid innings of two-hit ball.
Carson scored six in the second to take a 6-1 lead, using three hits, two errors and three walks by starter Matt Blank, who took the loss. Brett Valley’s two-run single was the key blow.
South Tahoe added a run in the third on Matt Marsh’s sacrifice fly to make it 6-2, but Carson exploded for four runs in the third and four more in the fourth.
In the fourth, Tyler Hutchins hit a two-run double to left, while Matt Rutledge and Tommy Preston each added a run-scoring single. Buttner’s grandslam accounted for Carson’s scoring in the fourth.
In the second game, Carson jumped to a 6-0 lead in the first as Jeff Butler had a two-run double, Rutledge contributed a sacrifice fly, Buttner had a bases-loaded walk and Cameron Mayville added a run-scoring single.
Carson extended its lead to 8-1 in the third as Buttner had a run-scoring single and South Tahoe made two errors.
South Tahoe tagged Carson starter Tyler Smith for five runs in the fourth o close to 8-6, as Max Dilallo doubled to drive in two runs.
The Senators put the game out of reach with four in the in fifth. Valley singled and moved to third when Preston’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed. Cody Barr walked to load the bases.
Buttner followed with a deep drive to right-center field, scoring three runs. The relay throw got by the third baseman, allowing Buttner to score.