By Bruce Robins, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD – On a night when the Lemon Bay pitching staff walked 12 batters and hit two more, the Manta Rays still found a way to defeat Cardinal Mooney, 7-5, in a non-district baseball game Tuesday night.
Four Lemon Bay hurlers gave up only three hits, and the Manta Rays played errorless ball in the field, while taking advantage of six wild pitches by Cougar starter Alex Rodman to win their fourth game in a row.
“Despite the control issues, I think that’s right up there with one of the best games we’ve played all season,” Lemon Bay coach Casey Hanrahan said. “It was a fun game to be a part of. We battled back from being behind at first. We had pressure situations where our hitters came through and we had big defensive plays. Everyone on the team contributed and it was a good team win for us.”
The Cougars jumped on top in the top of the first inning as Tommy Hubbard, the second batter of the game, deposited a pitch from Jacob Treece over the 340-foot sign in lef- center field for a solo home run.
The Manta Rays tied it up in the bottom of the frame as Warnner Rincones led off with a walk, went to second on a wild pitch, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on another wild pitch.
Lemon Bay then went ahead 2-1 in the second inning on a leadoff double by Chace Schork and an RBI single by Cole Dukes.
But Cardinal Mooney tallied three runs in the top of the third off reliever Trey Fields to take a 4-2 lead. After walking the bases loaded, Fields gave up a two-run double to Rodman and walked in another run with a free pass to Max Smyley.
The Manta Rays got one run back in the bottom of the fourth as Brandon Gielow struck out but reached first when the ball got past catcher Parker Shanahan. Gielow went to second on a wild pitch, stole third when Dukes drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, then came home on yet another wild pitch by Rodman.
Lemon Bay scored four times in the bottom of the fifth off reliever Josh Weber. Treece and Fields led off with walks to put runners at first and second, and Tyler Kreissler laid down a bunt in front of the mound. Weber fielded the ball and threw to third in an attempt to get the lead runner, but the ball got by third baseman Evan Berman as Treece scored the tying run.
Josh Sweiderk then walked to load the bases and with Schork at the plate, another ball got by Shanahan. Sweiderk was caught in a rundown between first and second, and when Fields broke to the plate from third, the throw from first baseman Paul Labriola sailed over the head of Shanahan for another error and another run scored. Gielow then delivered a two-run single to make it 7-4 and give Lemon Bay some breathing room.
Gielow held the Cougars hitless and scoreless in the fourth and fifth innings to pick up the win, and Kreissler pitched the sixth and seventh, giving up just one run to earn the save.
“We’ve got a lot of pitchers on the staff and we need them to get experience in games,” Hanrahan said. “We want to keep guys fresh and make sure they are able to work in live games, not just in the bullpen. So that was the game plan going in.”
Lemon Bay improved to 10-8 on the season with the victory, while Mooney fell to 11-7-1.
LEMON BAY 7, CARDINAL MOONEY 5
Cardinal Mooney 103 001 0 – 4 3 2
Lemon Bay 110 040 X – 7 7 0
WP: Brandon Gielow. LP: Josh Weber. Leading hitters: (LB) Cole Dukes 2-2, RBI; Brandon Gielow 1-2, R, 2 RBI; Trey Fields 1-2, R; Jacob Treece 1-2, R; (CM) Alex Rodman 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Tommy Hubbard 1-2, HR, 3 R, RBI.