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HomeSportsBaseballMiller and Leopards Pour It on In Big Win Over Hornets

Miller and Leopards Pour It on In Big Win Over Hornets

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The Hernando Leopards (3-3) overwhelmed the Weeki Wachee Hornets (4-3) in a 9-0 victory on a soggy Tuesday night at the Hornets’ Nest. Despite on and off weather delays, the cross-county road tilt may have been just what the doctor ordered for the Leopards. Helmed by legendary baseball coach Tim Sims, Hernando has prided itself on strong baseball. This season, though, the Purple and Gold had gotten off to a less than ideal start. They had sported a three-game losing streak thanks to a pair of matchups with undefeated Nature Coast and a one-loss Dunnellon Tigers team, but not after Tuesday’s matchup.


 

“It was a funny night where we did not know if it was going to rain,” Coach Sims said. “Let us just go play ball and see what happens […] Both squads handled it, I thought, pretty well. Our pitcher, Miller, outstanding job, handled it a little better than their guy because the stoppage happened when they were on the field. We had a little momentum right off the bat, so it kind of favored us a little bit, but both teams got to play through it.”

 

The Leopards handled the weather better on both sides of the ball. As the visitors, they were up to bat first and got the night started off with a bang. Hernando scored a trio of runs in the initial inning as Senior Bryce Saltsman and Juniors Gage Blade and Palmer Looper made it across home plate. Senior RHP Tyler Vincent and the Hornets managed to escape the opening period without any further damage and their first four batters all caught a piece of pitches coming their way. The downside for the home team, though, is that three out of four were caught out. This sent Hernando’s offense back onto the field in a hurry. The second inning went by quickly as the defenses retired the first three batters for both sides.

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Hernando Senior Carter Caraynoff, 9, prepares to hit the ball at the plate. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Hernando Senior Carter Caraynoff, 9, prepares to hit the ball at the plate. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]

The third phase of the game proved to be the most intriguing as a lightning delay was called, which paused the matchup for approximately 30 minutes. The rain had already been cropping up intermittently, but this caught the home team at an awkward time. Trailing by three with their defense looking for one more out in the top of the third, the Hornets would surrender another three scores directly after the impromptu break. Hernando Senior Carter Caraynoff was walked on the first at-bat following the resumption of play, and the bases were now loaded. A double deep to the outfield by Miller led to an error at the plate, which ran the trio of Sophomore Austin Knierim, Junior Eric O’Dell, and Caraynoff home. The visitors’ lead ballooned to six and it would not stop there. Hernando would continue to rack up the scores while Senior RHP Ryan Miller played through the rain, struck out six batters, and pitched the entire night without surrendering a single run.

 

“The ‘Sloth’ is that way,” said Coach Sims. “No emotion, [Miller] stays within himself as good as any player I have been around. He did a jam-up job tonight. He threw great last week in relief against Nature Coast. He is off to a very good start for us this year.”

 

The senior and the defense navigated a dangerous situation in the bottom of the third as Weeki Wachee had bases loaded with no outs. Three batters later, the home team walked away empty handed as they would all evening. Hernando’s offense would strike it rich one more time on Tuesday as they ran another three players across home base. The trifecta of Sophomore Kaine Ellis, Saltsman, and Knierim finished off the scoring for either team as the Hornets made their second pitching change of the night to Senior LHP Nick Heavens. The Green and Black hoped he could stop the bleeding, and that was exactly what he did. Thanks to his efforts, the home team narrowly avoided being run ruled early, but it would not matter as Miller was in the midst of his own impressive outing. The final three innings turned into a pitcher’s duel and Hernando coasted to a 9-0 victory over Weeki Wachee.

 

Weeki Wachee Senior LHP Nick Heavens, 25, looks to deliver a pitch in Tuesday night's matchup. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Weeki Wachee Senior LHP Nick Heavens, 25, looks to deliver a pitch in Tuesday night’s matchup. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]

Looking ahead to their next matchup, the Hornets and Leopards will be seeing much more of each other. This time, the Purple and Gold will be hosting as the cross-county foes will rematch on Friday night. Coach Sims feels he has a smart bunch of players, but they are just young and light on experience. As proof of their youth, the Leopards played a trio of sophomores on Tuesday evening. The Hernando coach looks for his group to “progress as the year goes on” in the areas of “handling adversity” and “getting comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”

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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