By Bruce Robins, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD — Lemon Bay’s baseball team saved the best for last in its 5-4 victory over visiting Cardinal Mooney in a pre-season game Wednesday night.
With two outs and no one on base in the bottom of the seventh inning, three straight Manta Rays batters reached base to fuel a rally for the win.
Cole Dukes walked and Warnner Rincones singled. Then, sophomore Brandon Gielow belted the ball into centerfield and Dukes came home with the winning run as the Manta Rays celebrated.
“This is the way you like to win,” Lemon Bay coach Casey Hanrahan said. “Winning when you have to in the clutch. I liked the way we played tonight. And there still are things we can improve on to make ourselves better.”
The Manta Rays started out fast with four runs in the bottom of the second inning. They got three hits, a walk and an error to get the four runs. Gielow and Dukes had run-scoring hits in the inning.
But the visitors came back. The Cougars scored one run in the third, one one in the fifth and two in the sixth to tie the score at 4-4 and it looked like the game might go into extra innings. But the Manta Rays recovered their hitting touch in the final inning.
Gielow had three hits to lead the Manta Rays’ attack.
”I was on the varsity team last season,” he said. “And I’ve had three hits before but this was nice.”
Lemon Bay finished with eight hits, Dukes added two hits. Cardinal Mooney had six hits.
Senior Trey Fields was the starting pitcher for Lemon Bay, going two innings. Tyler Kreissler, Josh Sweiderk, Zach Taylor and Rincones finished up on the mound for the Manta Rays. Rincones was the winning pitcher.
The Manta Rays open the regular season at 1 p.m. Tuesday at North Port. Their first home game of the regular season will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Mariner.
LEMON BAY 5, CARDINAL MOONEY 4
Cardinal Mooney 001 012 0 — 4 6 1
Lemon Bay 040 000 1 — 5 8 0
WP: Warnner Rincones. LP: Brandon. Leading hitters: (LB) Brandon Gielow 3-4, 2 RBI; Rincones 2-4, run; Cole Dukes 1-3, RBI, run; (CM) Alex Rodman 2-4, run.