The Weeki Wachee Varsity Baseball team (6-4) downed the Springstead Eagles (7-4) by a narrow 10-9 margin on Tuesday evening at the Eagles Nest. Both teams had won their two most recent contests, with each having defeated South Sumter in that span. While both squads would rack up a dozen or more runs against their common opponent, the Eagles defeated the Raiders 14-9 while the Hornets accomplished this feat with a 12-3 shellacking. On Tuesday, giving up a large volume of runs early would prove to be the home team’s downfall.
To open the action, Hornets Junior Jayden Vigo stepped up to the plate and zinged a single down the third base line. Moments later, with a pair of runners on first and second, Sophomore Jack Strong hit a double to the fence to run the pair home. Things would get worse for the Eagles before they got better. Junior Cole Walston then blasted a home run on the very next at bat to give the Hornets a growing 4-0 lead in the initial frame with zero outs. Then, it looked as if the Eagles might make it out of the inning without taking any more damage as Junior Nicholas Franklin corralled a pair of hits and threw runners out at first on both plays. With the home team nearly out of the jam, Hornets Junior Ethan Karnow made it on base before Senior Joseph Halter ripped another two run home run for the visitors. Weeki Wachee jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the first inning before the home team had a chance to blink.
After pitcher Michael Dressendorfer walked Sophomore Jase Kelly, Springstead Head Coach George Nessmith decided the junior’s day was done. Nessmith went to his bullpen and chose Junior Jacob Rief to try to settle things down. The home team finally made it out of the inning soon after when Kelly was thrown out trying to steal second base. The Eagles’ offense headed to the bottom of the first hoping to dig themselves out of a big hole.
While they would not make as big of a splash, there were some fireworks for the home team in the first. The trio of Juniors Brendan Anderson,
Jayden Garcia, and Dominique Janssens loaded the bases with a single out before Senior Ty Grover stepped up to the plate. A double deep to outfield ran Anderson and Garcia home to put the Eagles on the board 6-2 and give them some life going into the second stanza.
The top of the second would pass without incident for Springstead. A pair of Hornets’ hits were caught and Rief retired the other batter to bring the Eagles’ offense back out. This allowed the home team to snatch a little momentum from Weeki Wachee as Springstead parlayed the bottom of the second into another run. With Sophomore Dalton Williams on third, the Hornets failed to snag a hit by Senior Ryan Clearwater. Williams ran home and the deficit narrowed to 6-3.
The visitors would not take this lying down. Head Coach Patrick McHugh’s squad would respond with a score of their own in the third when Senior Ethan Franklin stole home on a Kelly at bat. Down four yet again, Springstead knew they would need to score more than one or
two runs in an inning to give the team a chance. And that is exactly what they did. With runners on first and second, a double by Williams sent Grover home. Immediately thereafter, Franklin ran Senior Eli Rivers home before Clearwater’s double brought Williams across home plate. With Clearwater’s eventual score, it was 7-7 just like that. Suddenly, it was a whole new game as the ball clubs headed into the top of the fourth.
Reflecting this shift, the match turned into more of a defensive battle as neither side logged a run through the fourth and fifth innings. The backbreaker came in the top of the sixth. With Kelly and Vigo on base, Hornets Junior Blake Byrne crushed the ball out of the park for the go ahead three run homer.
Nessmith and company rebounded admirably with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth and a deft pitching change to Franklin in the top of the seventh to prevent any more scoring by the Hornets. It would not be enough, however, as the offense failed to find any more magic in the final frame thanks to strong pitching by Junior Austin Alley.
The Eagles looked to regroup against the Land O’ Lakes Gators on Thursday, but again fell short, losing 9-6. In a rematch versus South Sumter on Wednesday, Weeki Wachee lost 10-4. The Hornets previously beat the South Sumter Raiders 12-3. Weeki Wachee and Springstead met again on Friday night, March 24. Unfortunately for the Hornets, this rematch did not go well either. The Eagles beat the Hornets 16-4. Weeki Wachee faces Bishop McLaughlin (3/28) and Land O Lakes (3/30) this upcoming week. Meanwhile, the Eagles will play Sunlake on 3/28, Fivay on 3/30, and River Ridge on 3/31.