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HomeSportsBaseballHoyt and Leavitt “Come Up Clutch” as Sharks Squash Scorpions

Hoyt and Leavitt “Come Up Clutch” as Sharks Squash Scorpions

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Another week, another clutch performance for Nature Coast Pitcher Jackson Hoyt. This time, though, he got it done on the mound and at the plate. The Columbia Blue and Black (19-6) used great performances from Hoyt, Senior Nate Leavitt, and company to propel them to the 5-1 victory over the Satellite Scorpions (15-9) at home. Sharks Head Coach Dan Garofano discussed his pitcher’s performance after Wednesday’s 4A FHSAA Regional Quarterfinal.

“He is a competitor,” said Coach Garofano. “When the stakes are highest, he pitches his best and he throws his best pitches. He pitched outstanding, and we had some really big clutch hits to knock in runs and beat a really good team. We had to play really well to beat them, and we did.”

The junior pitcher delivered two of the biggest moments of the matchup. After building a 2-1 lead off the bats of Senior Dylan Palmer and Junior Joey Vancleave in prior innings, the home team was back out on defense in the top of the fifth frame. With two balls, two outs, and bases loaded, the Sharks were clinging to the slimmest of margins. Hoyt then proceeded to force three strikes in a row to get the Sharks out of the precarious position and bring the offense back out. By the end of the night, Hoyt would go on to strike out a dozen batters and allow only one score.

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Nature Coast Tech pitcher, 15, Jackson Hoyt silenced the Satellite High bats and the visiting crowd in the 5-1 NCT win in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech pitcher, 15, Jackson Hoyt silenced the Satellite High bats and the visiting crowd in the 5-1 NCT win in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Not just a one trick pony, Hoyt showed up offensively late in the game as well. With a 3-1 lead and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Sharks were looking for some insurance runs to put some distance between them and the Scorpions. That is when Jackson blasted a bouncing double deep down the first base line that ran a pair of teammates (Leavitt and Junior Cody Wright) across home plate.

Hoyt’s double iced the game before Senior Pitcher Sean Keegan was brought in to close the seventh, which he did with aplomb. Coach Garofano also noted how critical Leavitt (two runs, one RBI) was after Wednesday’s showdown on the diamond.

“[Nate] had a big performance,” the Sharks’ coach said. “He is a senior. He has played well all year. He came up in a clutch situation and got a big two out hit and, in the playoffs, two out hits with runners on second or third are what win playoff games. You got to come up clutch with one or two outs and runners in scoring position. You got to be unselfish, you got to move runners up, you got to get them in, and we were able to do that tonight.”

Besides being run in for the game’s opening score, Leavitt’s two out single to left field put the Sharks’ third run on the board in the sixth. The very next at-bat was Hoyt’s game sealing double. The senior infielder’s clutch moments were crucial for capitalizing on opportunities and building momentum on which Jackson would put the finishing touches.

The Sharks will advance to the regional semifinals to face a familiar foe on Saturday. The Hernando Leopards will make the cross-town trek to Nature Coast for the second time in as many weeks, making for the fourth time the squads will have squared off this year. The two local teams will vie for who gets to represent the county in the regional finals later this month.

“That will be great for our county,” Coach Garofano said. “I respect Tim. They have a really good team, and so do we. It should be fun, and it is a really big baseball game that everybody should come out and see.”

Nature Coast Tech ’s Cody Wright slides head first into third base in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game versus visiting Satellite High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, 33, Cashis Williams slides headfirst into home plate scoring what turned out to be the winning run in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game versus visiting Satellite High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, 33, Cashis Williams slides headfirst into home plate scoring what turned out to be the winning run in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game versus visiting Satellite High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Satellite High’s left fielder made a diving catch on a fly ball off the bat of Nature Coast’s Dylan Palmer in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Satellite High’s left fielder made a diving catch on a fly ball off the bat of Nature Coast’s Dylan Palmer in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, 25, Dylan Palmer watches his sacrifice fly that plated the first run of the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game versus visiting Satellite High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, 25, Dylan Palmer watches his sacrifice fly that plated the first run of the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game versus visiting Satellite High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, 14, Nate Leavitt heads to third base in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game versus visiting Satellite High. Leavitt scored the first run of the game. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, 14, Nate Leavitt heads to third base in the 4A Regional Quarterfinal game versus visiting Satellite High. Leavitt scored the first run of the game. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]

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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