Logan LaPace is used to debacles.
He’s used to being in tight situations, in sticky jams, backed into a corner, where the only way out is to put his head down and charge.
And in Friday’s 4-1 win against Class 7A-District 9 foe Wiregrass Ranch, LaPace found himself there once again.
The Bulls got a leadoff single from Austin Drury, who then stole second and was driven home on an RBI double by Marcus Guzman. LaPace (4-0) was in a quick 1-0 hole.
“I always seem to have some kind of first-inning debacle,” LaPace said. “I have a philosophy: I pitch to contact and let my defense take care of the rest.”
Actually, on the next batter, LaPace took care of the rest. Michael Campoamor would line out a bunt to LaPace, who would then pick off Guzman on second for the double play.
“I had confidence in my stuff to get out of it,” LaPace said. “I’m used to having that type of situation. It happened the first time we played them, too.”
Indeed, when the Bulls (9-4) and the Warriors (13-1) met in February, LaPace had a bases-loaded situation in the first, but a ground-out double play got him out of that jam and helped the Warriors win 12-0.
“That’s his MO,” Steinbrenner coach John Crumbley said. “He goes after them and gets a lot of unsure swings and easy outs.”
Easy doesn’t begin to describe just the hour and 15 minutes LaPace needed to throw 73 pitches to three-hit the Bulls and strike out eight in the process. The game’s pace was quick, as Wiregrass had just two more base runners after the first.
“You saw a perfect of example of us not moving runners, not making use of situational hitting,” Bulls coach Jeff Swymer said. “We chased a lot of pitches, and we don’t normally chase.”
The Warriors, on the other hand, did move runners perfectly, including producing two sac flies: one by Danny Rodriguez, scoring Nickk D’Ambrosio, and another by Brennan Garcia, scoring Mijon Cummings. D’Ambrosio was replaced by Garcia after injuring his thumb sliding into home on the sac fly.
“We worked on situationally hitting this week, taking the two-strike approach to many at-bats,” Crumbley said. “Garcia’s sac fly had two strikes, and it was just to be mentally right in those places and it was nice to see results from it.”
Wiregrass sent junior Zach Drury (4-3) to the mound, who came into the game with 56 strikeouts and a low 90s fastball. Though he gave up only three hits, he was tagged for three earned runs to put some damage on his 0.26 ERA.
But it was all LaPace, who kept things simple and debacle free.
“When Logan’s on, his pitch count is down,” Crumbley said. “He’s efficient with pitches, if anything describes him, and that’s what makes him and us successful.”