Lantigua raps three knocks including third dinger as Eagles bury Beas, 15-5

BASEBALL

In 15-hit onslaught,

Ortiz, Miller, Hopper

Blevens collect 2 hits

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

SPRING HILL – Springstead sophomore southpaw Marcus Opolski was credited with his initial varsity mound victory in his first-ever start Thursday night against young and inexperienced Central.

The first-year left-hander faced 12 batters across the first three innings of a mercy-rule shortened 15-5 Hernando County win.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Opolski departed after 60 pitches and 7-1 cushion. He issued one walk, one wild pitch and fanned five yielding one hit and one unearned run.

Opolski was supported by a 15-hit onslaught against Bears right-handers Rashaad Boyce and Taylor Mulock.

Boyce (0-2) went the first three frames yielding six runs (five earned) on four hits. He walked a pair and struck out two.

Mulock went the final 2.1 innings allowing nine runs (all earned) on 11 hits. He fanned one and walked three batters.

The Bears’ biggest nemesis was senior first sacker Jiovel Lantigua.

The 2018 All-County selection finished a game-high 3-for-3, plus a walk.

Not that the Dominican Republic native played by himself as every SHS starter collected at least one hit.

Ivan Ortiz

Four others – Ivan Ortiz, Jake Miller, Joey Hopper and Logan Blevens – each chipped in two hits apiece.

Defensively, the Eagles converted 21-of-22 chances.

After Opolski started, relievers Kenny Rodriguez and Max O’Rourke both looked rusty making their initial relief appearances of the season.

Rodriguez yielded three runs (all earned) on three free passes and one hit while O’Rourke walked three and fanned three in his inning of work as the Eagles climbed to 6-0 overall while the Bears dropped to 1-6.

Recapping the scoring

The hosts dented the scoreboard early with a single tally in the first frame.

Leadoff batter Jason Bienstock coaxed a walk and promptly stole second base.

Jason Bienstock

He advanced to third base on a wild pitch before senior Jake Jasiak, another returning All-County pick, grounded out plating Bienstock, 1-0.

Central knotted the game in the top of the third.

Mulock led off with a double to left-center.

Deven Ayala grounded a ball wide of first base that Lantigua corralled. But the young Opolski forgot to cover first base.

So when Lantigua noticed no one was there to throw the ball to, he tried out run Ayala to the bag. He was too late for an error.

On a subsequent wild pitch, Mulock trotted home before Opolski restored order with back-to-back-to-back punchouts, 1-1.

Springstead answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning.

Louis Rodriguez opened with a leadoff walk before Blevens reached on a throwing error.

On the play, the ball skipped past first base permitting Rodriguez to score, 2-1.

Bienstock followed by lifting a sacrifice fly to left field plating Blevens, 3-1.

With one out, Jasiak doubled to right-center.

Jiovel Lantigua

On a subsequent 2-1 pitch, Lantigua uncoiled his Will Clark-like swing booming a two-run homer to right field, 5-1.

With two outs, Ortiz doubled to right-center.

A passed ball pushed him to third before he scored on a Boyce wild pitch, 6-1.

The Mariner Boulevard crew added six runs on seven hits against Mulock in the fourth to lead 12-1.

In the uprising, Louis Rodriguez doubled home a run, while Blevens, Bienstock and Miller singled home runs.

Hopper’s two-run single to left center swelled the lead to 11 runs.

Kenny Rodriguez, who hurled a scoreless fourth couldn’t get an out to open the fifth. He yielded a leadoff single to Ayala before walking Nick Marsciano and Trey Adler.

O’Rourke replaced Rodriguez on the bump but issued back-to-back bases loaded walks to force home Ayala and Marsciano, 12-3.

With one out, Ryan Ebberup singled to left to plate Adler, 12-4.

With two outs and the sacks still loaded, Mulock coaxed a free pass to force home Locke Weissman, 12-5.

The Eagles responded by loading the bases with one out against Mulock. RBI singles by Jake Rice, Ortiz and Miller helped close the books, 15-5.

Post-game chatter

Miller, who went 4-for-4 and knocked home the game winner Tuesday against Crystal River, remained hot finishing 2-for-4 with two RBI.

“I’m seeing the ball really well,” shared the 16-year-old Miller. “I’m banking on hitting the fast ball. I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and not try to do too much with each pitch.

Jake Miller

On what Miller believed the Eagles need to improve on was “We’ve gotta stay in the game.“

Joey Hopper

 

In rewinding his third homer of the season, “I was sitting expecting a curve ball,” shared the 18-year-old Lantigua. “But I hit a fast ball that probably missed its mark.”

On what Lantigua took away from the effort, “We’re winning, but we’ve got to be able to close games out. We’re not finishing.”

Fifth-year SHS skipper Shawn Laferty initially praised his young left-hander.

Shawn Laferty

“Opolsky pitched well. He did a good job of not trying to do too much. I had to go out there once to remind him that he has to cover first base. It was just a mental mistake.”

In having an additional lefty for a three-game week, “It’s definitely nice to have another lefty available.”

On what Coach Laferty took away, “We got up 12-1, but this game is all about throwing strikes. They get a couple hits and we walk a few and they’re right back in it. I was glad to see Kenny (Rodriguez) and Max (O’Rourke) both get some much needed work.”

Describing Central, “You look at their faces and they appear so young,” noted Laferty. “But over the years, Al (Sorrentino) has done a done great job in getting his team ready to play. They just need some time together.”

On Lantigua’s calling card, “They (Central) challenged him with a fast ball. Most teams are throwing curves up there,” said Laferty.

Looking ahead

SHS returns to action at 7 p.m Friday at 6A-6 rival Inverness-Citrus.

With a win, Laferty will join ex-Eagles coaches Chuck Moehle and Frank Vitale with at least 100 career victories.

Springstead 15,

Central 5 (4.5 Innings)

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

R

 

H

 

ER

 

LOB

CEN

0

0

1

0

4

5

3

1

6

SPG

1

0

6

5

3

15

15

1

5

CEN – Boyce, Mulock (4) and Weissman.

SPG – Opolski, K, Rodriguez (4), O’Rourke (5) and Rice.

W – Opolski (1-0). L – Boyce (0-2).

2B – CEN: Mulock. SPG: Jasiak, Lantigua, Ortiz, L. Rodriguez.

HR – Lantigua.

Records – Central 0-2 county, 1-6 overall), Springstead (2-0 county, 6-0 overall).

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