By Bruce Robbins, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD – The disappointing start to the baseball season continued for Lemon Bay High School Tuesday night as the Manta Rays fell to Riverview, 4-2, in a non-district game at Jack Llewellyn Field.
After being held in check for most of the night by Rams starting pitcher Stephen Wilmer, Lemon Bay rallied with runs in the sixth and seventh against two relievers, but the comeback fell short.
Even in their lone victory of the season, the Manta Rays fell behind Lakewood early before rallying in the last two innings for a 16-5 win.
“If we took the whole game as seriously as we took the last couple of innings, our record might be a little bit different,” Lemon Bay coach Casey Hanrahan said. “That’s where we’re at right now. We’ve got to find a way to dig down deep early in the game and get it started from the beginning.”
The Rams took advantage of two Lemon Bay errors to jump out on top 2-0 in the top of the first inning off starter Tyler Kreissler. Aramis Linares beat out an infield hit and went to second on a throwing error. Mark Townsend drove in Linares with a single, then stole second and third base.
Townsend scored when center fielder Brandon Gielow misplayed Trent Sinkfield’s fly ball, but Gielow recovered to throw out Sinkfield at third.
The Manta Rays could manage only a couple of walks off Wilmer in the first two innings. Trey Fields finally got the first hit for Lemon Bay in the third inning, but was promptly picked off first base.
Jake Comer replaced Kreissler on the mound in the fourth inning, and the Rams scored twice more. Tom Sweeney led off with a single, was sacrificed to second, and scored on David Russo’s RBI single. Kevin Szafran’s sacrifice fly brought in Russo and made it 4-0.
Lemon Bay got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning off reliever Mitchell Sundlin. Warnner Rincones led off with a walk. Fields bunted down the third-base line and Russo’s throw sailed over the head of first baseman Sweeney, leaving runners at second and third with no outs. Rincones scored when Gielow’s ground ball was booted by second baseman Szafran.
In the bottom of the seventh, Sinkfield came in to pitch after Sundlin walked leadoff batter Zach Taylor. Taylor moved up on an infield out and a single by Cole Dukes, then scored on another error by Szefran. Fields grounded out to first, putting the tying runs on second and third, but Gielow flied out to right to end the game.
“We have a lot of potential on this team and I don’t want to see it go to waste,” Hanrahan said. “We have a lot of good ballplayers that work really hard.”
Lemon Bay managed just four hits on the night, while each team committed three errors. The Manta Rays have a game at Southeast on Wednesday before opening district play at home Friday against Lake Placid.
“It’s wearing on us all, trust me,” Hanrahan said. “I know the players are feeling it, I know the coaches are feeling it, but we just have to come together and make more of an effort in the beginning of the games.”
RIVERVIEW 4, LEMON BAY 2
Riverview 200 200 0 – 4 9 3
Lemon Bay 000 001 1 – 2 4 3
WP: Stephen Wilmer. LP: Tyler Kreissler. Leading hitters: Tom Sweeney (R) 2-4, R; Mark Townsend (R) 2-4, R, RBI; Josh Gossett (LB) 1-3; Cole Dukes (LB) 1-3. Records: Riverview 3-2, Lemon Bay 1-5.