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HomeSportsBaseballSharks Blank Eagles in Season Opener

Sharks Blank Eagles in Season Opener

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The Nature Coast Tech Sharks (1-0) opened their season with a 4-0 victory over the Springstead Eagles (0-1) on a frigid Tuesday night. Both teams were coming off solid 2023 campaigns where the Sharks reached 15 wins and the district championship, and the Eagles made it to 17 wins and the district semifinal. Despite being held to no more than one run in any inning, Nature Coast Head Coach Dan Garofano’s squad continued to plug away and nab scores in four out of seven frames. The Red, White, and Blue held within striking distance for much of the night at home but were kept off the board all evening due to the Sharks’ pitching.


“Opening day is always fun,” Coach Garofano said. “Sean pitched a great game, threw 89 pitches and just did what he does. He throws strikes, he throws fastball, curveball, slider, changeup for strikes, and keeps hitters off balance. We did just enough offensively to win the game. [I] think that is going to be our calling card this year is good starting pitching. We got to find who our relief guys are going to be and get some timely hitting.”


The visitors got the scoring started early with a first inning score by Junior SS Cody Wright, but Junior P Joey Rief and the Eagles were able to get out of the top of the initial period surrendering only one run. A pair of hits by Springstead were caught out and Senior P Sean Keegan struck out a third batter to take it to the next frame. The second saw the home team give a little more ground when Junior P Jackson Hoyt ran Sophomore OF Cashis Williams home with a deep shot to the outfield. This was with two outs after Williams was walked and subsequently stole second base to put himself in position. The Eagles did not fare much better in the bottom of the inning as Keegan struck out a pair of batters with runners on first and second to take the game to the third. The frame was rather uneventful for both teams except for an out by the Nature Coast defense that was changed to a double play by the referees to end the inning.


Nature Coast Tech, 8, Sean Keegan faced cross town rival Springstead Tuesday. [Photo by Joe DiCristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, 8, Sean Keegan faced cross town rival Springstead Tuesday. [Photo by Joe DiCristofalo]

The fourth period saw the team in Columbia Blue begin to impose their will on Springstead. Following a walk and a pitch that could not be corralled by the catcher, Eagles Head Coach George Nessmith went to his bullpen in hopes that a pitching change might save them. After Senior P Michael Dressendorfer took the mound, he struck out Williams, but proceeded to walk Wright. With the bases now loaded, Dressendorfer and the Eagles were in the danger zone. While the pitcher managed to get out of the pinch before it got disastrous, the visitors did put another point on the scoreboard when a bouncing hit by Hoyt ran Junior 1B Joseph Rozsa home. The Sharks then ran one more home in the sixth inning. Senior 3B Dylan Palmer crossed home plate thanks to a Junior OF Joey Vancleave bouncing hit between second and third base, and it was death by a thousand cuts for the home team. Five out of the next eight batters for Springstead were walked as the Columbia Blue and Black left the Eagles’ Nest with a win. Coach Garofano’s plan heading into the season worked masterfully in game one.

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“Offensively, we have been trying to go up there with a plan of attack,” said Coach Garofano. “Sit on certain pitches in certain spots early in the count. Then, when we get those pitches, do damage on them. We want pitchers to throw strikes and be aggressive in the strike zone.”


Like last season, Nature Coast will open their schedule with back-to-back showdowns against their cross-county rivals. The Sharks will host the next matchup against the Red, White, and Blue at 7 PM on Friday.


Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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