12 and counting: Leopards continue to feast on Fivay, 6-3

BASEBALL

HHS pockets eighth win

in a row as Lashley, Galda,

Morgan, Taylor rap 2 hits each

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

BROOKSVILLE – In local baseball lore, very few times do start up programs ever open with a bang.

Fivay High could be an exception.

The Falcons fielded its initial varsity baseball team in 2011 along the Chicago Avenue campus at Hudson.

In Year 2, Justin Kunick’s Falcons did what few was thought possible.

In FHS’ first-ever tilt against Hernando High at Emerson Field – as the Leopards were just a season removed from the Final Four – the little known Falcons upset the Purple and Gold on Feb. 23, 2012, 4-1.

HHS right-hander Eloy Ramirez went five innings, but suffered the mound setback.

What makes that night stand out?

Since then – over the next seven seasons – the West Pasco County program hasn’t duplicated that feat.

On Friday night in Brooksville, though the hosts stranded a game-high 12 runners on base -including leaving the bases loaded twice – HHS departed 2:12 hours after the first pitch with its season-high eight straight win, 6-3.

The victory completed the home and away regular season sweep by the Leopards (8-2 in 5A-7, 13-4 overall) over the Falcons (3-6 5A-7, 3-13 overall) for a fourth straight spring.

All told, since Ramirez’s loss, the Leopards have solved FHS in each of the next 12 meetings, outscoring the Falcons by a combined 68 runs, 108-40.

After bouncing the Falcons on Tuesday in Pasco County, 15-0, behind right-hander Marrick Aske, the Leopards rode another senior right-hander: Carson Lashley.

Since absorbing the 5-3 mound loss against Cypress Creek on March 15, the 5-foot-8, 160-pound Lashley reeled off his third straight win to climb to 4-1.

HHS: Plenty of support

Lashley didn’t play by himself.

At the plate, the Leopards cracked a game-high 10 hits.

Steve Taylor

Lashley helped himself with a pair of knocks while Conner Morgan, Stevie Taylor and Austin Galda each chipped in two base hits.

Lashley and David Hale Bronson each plated two runs.

On the night, the Leopards took advantage of catcher Joey Wallen and three Falcon pitchers inability to hold runners, collecting six stolen bases in six attempts.

Defensively, the hosts converted 33-of-36 chances (.917) overcoming a game-high three errors.

Lashley benefited from a pair of flashy assists by third sacker Morgan in the third inning.

In the fourth, arrived the game’s web gem.

With one out and nobody on, FHS’ M.J. Finn legged out a double to left-center.

A subsequent passed ball pushed him to third.

Here, David Dubiel lined a hard smash to Morgan. He gloved the ball and fired to first sacker Taylor.

As the ball left Morgan’s hands, Dubiel headed for the plate.

But after recording the second out at first, Taylor whistled a perfect seed back to catcher Javy Bonilla, who tagged Dubiel to complete a bang-bang double play.

That plate at the plate loomed larger as the game progressed.

Lashley departed after five innings and facing 21 batters. He yielded three hits and three walks against five strikeouts.

Sophomore shortstop Dylan DuPhily swapped positions with Lashley in the sixth.

DuPhily hurled the last two frames allowing one unearned run.

On the game’s last batter, DuPhily initiated a 1-6-3 double play to fittingly end the game.

The Falcons finished the game 3-of-24 (.125), at the plate with no one collecting more than one hit.

Recapping the scoring

Prior to Tuesday night’s one-sided affair, HHS was red-hit hitting a collective .427 (67-for-157) in six straight wins.

The hosts opened the game precisely how they had dismantled FHS on Tuesday, stock piling early runs.

This time, the Leopards opened with three runs in the first inning off starter David Dubiel.

The game opened ominously for the Falcons.

Lashley grounded routinely to first base but Finn was charged with an error.

Morgan, who began the week hitting .343, crushed a sinking liner to right-center.

With runners at the corners, Morgan stole second before DuPhily walked to load the bases.

Bronson followed with two-run single plating Lashley and Morgan, 2-0.

With one out, Taylor rammed an RBI double down the left field line scoring Bronson, 3-0.

The hosts padded the lead with a run in the second.

Galda led off the frame with a line drive double off the base of the left field fence.

With one out, Lashley followed with an RBI double to left, 4-0.

In the fourth, HHS added another.

With one out, Lashley dropped a bunt single.

Connor Morgan

Morgan followed with a single to center.

On a perfectly executed double steal, Morgan ended up at second while Lashley scooted home, 5-0.

With Morgan at second, Bronson walked prior to Broc Valdez getting plunked by a pitch to load the bases.

Taylor, however, skied out to right field to end the threat.

Trailing 5-0, FHS finally pieced together an offensive threat.

Wallen and Eric Mettler coaxed lead off free passes off Lashley to open the fifth.

With one out, Eric Scott grounded into a fielder’s choice erasing Mettler at second,.

With two outs and runners at the corners, JJ Erazo punched an RBI single to left.

When the ball scooted under Bronson’s glove for an error, Scott circled the bases to cut the lead to 5-2.

Ethan Hurst hit a line drive up the middle that was one-handed by Lashley, who took two strides toward first base, before flipping the ball to Taylor to end threat.

FHS added another run in the sixth.

With one out, Finn walked off DuPhily.

With two outs, Wallen reached on a throwing error by Lashley at shortstop.

With runners at the corners, a passed ball allowed Finn to score, 5-3.

Dylan DuPhily

But with courtesy runner Tyler Jamieson at third, DuPhily enticed Mettler to ground out to Morgan.

After stranding the bases loaded in the fifth, HHS tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.

Bronson was hit by a pitch – allowing the senior to reach base – for the third time.

He immediately stole second base.

An error by the shortstop permitted Bronson to race home, 6-3.

Taylor singled and quickly stole second.

Here, Erazo was inserted on the mound and restored order retiring three Leopards in a row.

Post-game discussion

David Hale Bronson

Retracing his critical first at-bat, “Even though we won on Tuesday, we knew they were gonna be ready this time,” explained Bronson, 18. “They were missing some kids, so I thought they’d play us a lot better.

In walking away, “We got the lead early, but didn‘t finish all of our (scoring) opportunities. Our defense has to tighten up and play better.”

Austin Galda

The 6-foot, 175-pound Galda savored just his second multi-hit game of the season, finishing 2-for-4.

“I’ve been seeing the ball really well lately,” explained the 17-year-old Galda. “We’re not hitting the ball off the tee as much, which has really helped the entire team.”

On what Galda took away from the closer-than-anticipated final score, “In baseball, things can change so quickly. We have to stay within ourselves and keep playing.”

On Lashley’s start, “He did a great job,“ noted Galda. “I can’t say enough on how he busted his butt on the mound for five innings. That really helped us all out.”

Carson Lashley

“Lately, the whole team has been seeing the ball well, including me,” identified the 18-year-old Lashley.

“We got up again, 5-0, tonight and then stopped going after pitches and executing the way we know we can,” he added.

On what Lashley took away, “I felt good. The way we’re playing, I know we‘re gonna score some runs and defensively, we‘re not going to make every play. But tonight, Conner had two real nice plays at third and we pulled off two double plays, which really helps.”

Coaches’ corner

Tim Sims

HHS’ 24th-year skipper Tim Sims tipped his cap at FHS for playing hard, especially after Tuesday’s blowout.

“CJ (Smith) has done a nice job with those kids. They graduated a lot of seniors. To me, they’re the sleeper pick come districts in Hudson. They did a nice job bouncing back. I knew they would. We caught ’em a little short-handed on Tuesday.”

Reflecting back on the game, “Our group is exceptionally comfortable in uncomfortable situations – like what happened when Fivay scored a couple runs and threatened to come back. There was no panic out there with these guys.

“… Even though we got 10 hits, a lot of balls were hit right at guys. I thought Conner made a couple real nice plays at third and Carson was effective in his first five innings. This is a fun group.

“The biggest positive has to be our continued (good) approach at the plate. We’re not giving at-bats away,” emphasized Sims.

Looking ahead

Hernando returns to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Hudson High.

Hernando 6, Fivay 3

 

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FIV

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HER

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12

FIV – Dubiel, Donoso (5), Erazo (6) and Wallen.

HER – Lashly, DuPhily (6) and Bonilla.

W – Lashley (4-1). L – Dubiel.

2B – FIV: Finn. HER: Lashley, Taylor, Galda.

Records – Fivay (3-6 5A-7, 3-13 overall), Hernando (8-2 5A-7, 13-4 overall).

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