By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — Lemon Bay High School could have stopped at three runs on Tuesday, as that was all they needed for a win over Dunbar in the District 5A-12 semifinals.
But the Manta Rays didn’t stop there, as a nine-run inning helped propel them to a 13-2 win in five innings over the Tigers.
“It’s always good to have the No. 1 seed when you’re going into the postseason,” Lemon Bay coach Casey Hanrahan said. “We were hitting the ball hard. We’re setting, and ready to go. We got through that one pretty efficiently. I think the way we’re playing we can continue this into Thursday.”
Jaryd Clary had a short, but strong outing to pick up the win. He allowed one run on two hits over three innings of work. Clary struck out three batters in the second inning, one of which reached base and ended up coming around to score Dunbar’s only run until the final frame.
“That was kind of our plan,” Hanrahan said. “If we saw how things shook up, and we had a pretty comfortable lead, it made sense. We have a lot of guys in the bullpen who can throw strikes and get the job done. It gives us Clary as an option in the bullpen for Thursday.”
The Manta Rays sent 15 batters to the plate in the third inning to score nine runs and open up a 12-run lead.
Zach Pellicciotti had a double and triple in the big third inning for Lemon Bay. The first baseman drove in two runs on the triple, and was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.
Stephen Yulee and Jacob Treece both had at least one RBI in each of their plate appearances in the third. Yulee had a two-run single his first go around, and then drove in one more his second time up. Treece had an RBI single, and earned another RBI on a hit by pitch.
Treece, Pellicciotti, Ckary, Brandon Gielow, Matt Molinari and Flynn Stewart all scored two runs for the Manta Rays.
Zach Taylor entered the game in the fourth inning for Lemon Bay, and immediately got himself into and out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam.
With the win, Lemon Bay clinched a berth to the regional tournament, and will play the winner of Tuesday’s DeSoto County-Lake Placid game in the District 5A-12 championships Thursday at 7 p.m.
“Looking at the past kind of gives me an uneasy feeling,’ Hanrahan said. “I don’t like to think about what we’ve done. But I know if we play out game, throw strikes, make routine plays, and hit the ball hard, that’ll give us a chance against anyone we play. I think we’ll be ready on Thursday.”
Lemon Bay, the district’s No. 1 seed, was 4-0 against those teams in the regular season.
LEMON BAY 13, DUNBAR 2
Dunbar 010 01 — 2 4 5
Lemon Bay 229 0x — 13 16 2
WP: Jaryd Clary. LP: Andress Torres. Leading hitters: Zach Pellicciotti (LB) 3-3, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI; Jacob Treece (LB) 2-2, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI; Stephen Yulee (LB) 2-3, 4 RBI. Records: Lemon Bay 15-10, Dunbar 12-16.