By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — Every now and again, Lemon Bay catches a case of the errors.
The Manta Rays committed six against Ohio’s Dublin Coffman for seven unearned runs while catcher Matt Molinari allowed another unearned score on a passed ball. It all added up to a 14-8 loss to the Shamrocks at Jack Llewellyn Field, snapping the Manta Rays’ three-game winning streak.
Cal Haeke led the offensive barrage with three RBI, all coming on a bases-clearing double in the fifth that put the Shamrocks ahead 11-4. Alex Werth and Conor Sheridan both went 2 for 4, driving in two runs apiece.
“My mind is all over the place right now. We didn’t play our best game today. That’s the bottom line,” Lemon Bay coach Casey Hanrahan said. “I’m not really looking for excuses. We just for whatever reason didn’t put a good game together from the beginning.”
Dublin Coffman scored five runs in the first, with Alex Werth and Conor Sheridan each hitting RBI singles. Two more runs came in via two errors and another scored on a balk by Lemon Bay starting pitcher Brandon Gielow, who lasted 3 2/3 innings with three of his six runs earned on five hits and five walks to go along with seven strikeouts.
Lemon Bay committed three more errors in the second inning that led to Matt Ilcin scoring his second of three runs on the night to put Dublin Coffman up 6-0.
“(Gielow) started out a little shaky but then he started cruising,” Hanrahan said. “His velocity was going up and he looked a lot better in the third and fourth inning than he did at the end of the game so we decided as coaches to see how far he could take this thing. We left him in to see if he could cruise through a couple of more innings. Should we have taken him out? I don’t think so. He was doing good at that point and time.”
The Manta Rays still managed to get back into the game with three runs in the second inning, which included an RBI single by Molinari, who later scored on a wild pitch. Dublin Coffman starting pitcher Blake Baldridge then walked a batter and hit two more before leaving briefly after just 1 1/3 innings.
Taylor scored when Tyler Kreissler drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Will Kranstuber to cut Dublin Coffman’s lead to 6-3. Mike Matthews relieved Kranstuber and threw a wild pitch in the third that allowed Gielow to score after he drew a walk.
Just like that, Lemon Bay was back in the game down 6-4. But Baldridge returned in the fourth and held off the Manta Rays enough the rest of the way to pick up the win despite giving up eight earned runs on nine hits, two walks and four hit batters. He had four strikeouts in 4 1/3 total innings of work.
“We tried to come back. We tried to battle back and get back into it but it slipped out of our hands and little too far out of reach in that one long inning in the fifth,” Hanrahan said.
That was when it spiraled out of control for the Manta Rays with Josh Sweiderk on the mound. The Shamrocks sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs to take control, which included an RBI single by Ethan Hetzel, Haeke’s 3-RBI double and an RBI double by Werth.
Five of those runs were unearned, with the sixth run coming on a passed ball. The Manta Rays should have been out of the inning trailing 8-4 but an error kept the frame alive, and Haeke and Werth made them pay.
The Shamrocks added another run on an RBI single by Marcus Ernst in the sixth. Jake Comer had a pinch-hit RBI double for Lemon Bay in the bottom half of the sixth and Warnner Rincones had an RBI single.
Rincones went 4 for 4 with three infield singles.
Conor Sheridan hit an RBI single for Dublin Coffman in the seventh. Kreissler finished off the scoring with an RBI single for Lemon Bay.
“The thing is, we weren’t out of the game after that first inning. A lot of teams would give up at that point but we didn’t give up until the sixth and seventh. We came back, we tried to fight, tried to get through it and we came up short,” Hanrahan said.
“I can say that I’m proud of the character of our team… but we’ve got to stop the bleeding when things start looking bad. We’ve got to find a way to get back in the dugout and answer with some runs on the scoreboard and we didn’t do that tonight.”
DUBLIN COFFMAN 14, LEMON BAY 8
Dublin Coffman 510 060 1 — 14 11 0
Lemon Bay 031 003 1 — 8 11 6
WP: Blake Baldridge. LP: Brandon Gielow. Leading hitters: (DC) Cal Haeke 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI, R, BB; Alex Werth 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R; Conor Sheridan 2-4, 2 RBI, 3 R, BB; (LB) Warnner Rincones 4-4, RBI, R. Records: Dublin Coffman 2-0, Lemon Bay 6-8.