By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — Trey Fields admitted it was in his head as he walked out to the mound for the seventh inning of Thursday’s District 5A-12 championship against Lake Placid.
Through six innings, the Lemon Bay ace held the Red Dragons hitless in the biggest game of the season.
“I sat there in the dugout and made sure everyone stayed away from me. I didn’t want to hear anyone say a thing. But I just went out there and did what I was doing all game,” Fields said.
And just like the six innings before, Fields was unhittable. He ended the game with his fifth strikeout and two pop outs to finish off a no-hitter and a 7-0 win for Lemon Bay over Lake Placid to clinch the school’s second straight district title.
It was the first no-hitter of the senior’s high school career and an efficient one at that he as threw just 81 pitches to shut down the Red Dragons.
“He’s worked his butt off for four years for me,” Lemon Bay coach Casey Hanrahan said. “A no-hitter in the district championship game for the first time for him is awesome. The kid works hard. He deserves it. He threw 81 pitches in a seven-inning game. He worked efficiently and he was lights out today so I’m really proud of him.”
Fields’ only blemishes on the night were two walks, with one of those base runners immediately thrown out on a double play. He faced 22 batters total and only let seven balls leave the infield.
“After my last game against Charlotte, I didn’t do so hot but I just wanted to come out here and throw strikes,” Fields said. “I wasn’t trying to overpower anybody necessarily. I kept movement on the ball and put it where they couldn’t hit it.”
The Manta Rays had previously clinched a regional playoff berth Tuesday when Dunbar forfeited the district semifinal. Thursday’s win was supposed to clinch a home playoff game in the regional quarterfinals, but instead, they’ve already picked up that victory as well without stepping on the field.
Lemon Bay would’ve been set to host the loser of the District 5A-11 championship game, but Bayshore was forced to forfeit its matchup with Southeast due to an ineligible player. According to a report from the Herald-Tribune, Bayshore’s pitcher exceeded the pitch count limit in the final inning of its semifinal game against Booker and became an ineligible player.
As a result, not only does Bayshore have to forfeit its district title game but it also must vacate its spot in the Class 5A regional bracket per Florida High School Athletic Association policy. That automatically moves the Manta Rays into the region semifinals, where they’ll host either Southeast or Lake Placid on May 16.
“What happens with other teams is out of our control but we’ve just got to keep our nose down and stay humble and keep pressing,” Hanrahan said. “We want to get to that next level. That’s been our goal all season.”
Overshadowed by Fields’ night on the mound was Brandon Gielow’s night at the plate. Gielow went 2-for-2 and reached base four times, but none more exciting than his bases-clearing triple in the second inning that put Lemon Bay comfortably in front with a 6-0 lead.
Lake Placid started Cody Jolley on the mound but he only lasted 1.1 innings. An error hurt him in the first when his defense botched an inning-ending double play and allowed Jacob Treece to score the game’s first run. Chace Shork then took advantage and delivered an RBI single to put the Manta Rays up 2-0.
The game spiraled out of control for Lake Placid in the second as Lemon Bay scored five more runs.
Flynn Stewart singled and later scored on dropped third strike, and Jolley walked Warrner Rincones before getting the early hook. Reliever Jason Andrews walked two more batters to load the bases for Gielow’s triple, and Gielow later scored on a wild pitch to give Fields a 7-0 cushion.
The Manta Rays enter the playoffs winning nine of their last 10, including Dunbar’s forfeit. They’re one of the hottest teams in the state that doesn’t plan on cooling off during the 11-day layoff.
“We’ll get creative with it (in practice). We’ve got a lot of arms in here that will get us through the dry spell but we’ll be all right,” Hanrahan said. “At this point in the season it’s good to have some rest because you really have to watch for burnout with players and morale and stuff so it’ll be a good thing for us.”
LEMON BAY 7, LAKE PLACID 0
Lake Placid 000 000 0 — 0 0 1
Lemon Bay 250 000 X — 7 9 0
WP: Trey Fields. LP: Cody Jolley. Leading hitters: (LB) Brandon Gielow, 2-2, 3B, 3 RBI, R, BB, HBP; Flynn Stewart 2-3, R; Chace Shork 1-2, BB, RBI; Tyler Kreissler 2-3, BB, 2 R; Warrner Rincoes 2-3, BB, R. Records: Lemon Bay 17-9, Lake Placid 9-14.