LUTZ — Trailing by a run in the sixth inning, Steinbrenner coach John Crumbley was looking to try to even things any way he could as the Warriors hosted Alonso on Friday night.
With two outs and two strikes, Crumbley sent pinch runner Jake Carroll down the third-base line trying to draw a balk.
No one told the hitter and the balk never came. Instead, Brennan Garcia roped a double to right field, plating a pair of runs as Steinbrenner topped Alonso 3-2.
“I was trying to get a balk,” Crumbley said. “But Brennan had two strikes on him, got locked in, got the barrel of the bat on the ball and hit it pretty hard.”
“I always say it’s better to be lucky than good and we’re trying to get good, so we don’t have to be so lucky.”
Garcia said he was clueless to his coach’s plans, and was just looking for a pitch. The senior found one to his liking and sent it over the head of a drawn in Ravens right fielder.
“I didn’t even know the steal was coming and Jake Carroll was really close,” Garcia said. “If it had been a ball and I took it, he might have been safe.”
The game started as quite a duel between senior right-handers Gideon Dunn for the Warriors and Alonso’s Alex Faedo.
Alonso (17-5) made the most of a Jose Ciccarello leadoff double to open the game, scoring the first run on a Wyatt Reid single. Steinbrenner (16-4) answered in the second with Garcia reaching on an error before being driven in by Andrew Lindsay.
From there the pitchers went at it. Faedo took the loss, going the whole way for the Ravens and allowing two earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. Dunn struck out seven as well but was chased from the game as Alonso went ahead in the top of the sixth with Faedo drawing a bases loaded walk to score Ryan Mejia.
“I think this says a lot about both programs,” Garcia said. “We never had the lead until the end and we managed to pull it down, but they also held us down with great pitching and great defense.”
Ryan Fatzinger earned the win in relief to improve to 2-0. Alex Hanson had two hits and a stolen base for the Warriors, and Garcia had a pair of stolen bases on the night.
Wesley Chapel downs Wiregrass Ranch, 9-6
WESLEY CHAPEL — Big hits and big plays in a big rivalry.
And it was Wesley Chapel (16-6) that came away with the 9-6 win over crosstown foe Wiregrass Ranch, thanks to a first-inning, two-run homer by junior K.J. Bierly.
“This is the game (the players) talk about on Facebook and Twitter all week long,” Wildcats coach Steve Mumaw said. “It’s good for the game around here, especially when we have packed house and it’s two good teams with good players. They’re a good team, we’re a good team and we got a great win tonight.”
The Bulls (15-6) got on the board first with an RBI double by Zach Drury to score Michael Campoamor, but Bierly answered with his third homer this season when starter Ryan Girard tried to sneak a fastball past the Wildcats second baseman.
“Ryan tried to lay that fastball in there, but Bierly is as a good as hitter as they have. He’s having a great year,” Mumaw said of Bierly, who has a team high 26 RBIs and 35 hits.
Wiregrass tied the game in the top of the second on an RBI single by Campoamor and a catcher error allowed a run. Wesley Chapel extended its lead to 6-3 with an RBI single by Dakota Caldwell and then Dillon Sink drove in two more on a single. Branden McLeod scored Bierly on an RBI single in the sixth, while a centerfielder error by the Bulls gave the Wildcats a 9-3 lead heading into the seventh.
With strong wings blowing out to left field, the Bulls would crush two homers in their last inning as Alex Goebel hit a two-run shot and Logan Place hit a solo homer.
Mumaw knows Wiregrass is a strong Class 7A team that hits well, which suits him fine. The Bulls served as a good warmup for the No. 2-seeded Wildcats before they head into the 5A-7 district tournament at Zephyrhills, starting April 22.
“Playing a team like this late in the season is only good because it prepares you for the district tournament,” Mumaw said. “These kids have been battling all year and they’ve done a great job getting quality wins. This team has shown a lot more than anyone thought it would.”