By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
FORT MYERS — Lemon Bay’s magical season ended with a thud in the Class 5A state semifinals Wednesday afternoon as Bishop Moore pitcher Josh Bates threw a one-hitter to lead the Hornets to an 8-0 victory at Centurylink Sports Complex at Hammond Field.
Bates took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and was two outs away from finishing the gem before Trey Fields singled to right field. Lemon Bay (19-10) only managed two other base runners the entire game against the Tulane signee, one on an error in the fifth and the other on a walk in the seventh.
Bishop Moore will face Bolles today for the championship. Bolles defeated Pompano Beach 2-1 in the other semifinal Wednesday.
“We had every intention of coming here and giving it 100 percent, and I think we did. But we went up against a guy that threw a lot of strikes and pitched a very good game,” said Lemon Bay coach Casey Hanrahan, whose team turned its season around after a 1-5 start to reach its first state semifinal in program history.
Bates was incredibly efficient, striking out seven in the complete game on just 80 pitches.
“I think he threw harder than most guys we’ve seen this season. We only saw a couple with his speed,” Lemon Bay catcher Matt Molinari said.
Fields, who threw his own no-hitter in the District 5A-12 championship, suffered the loss after working five innings. Bishop Moore hit Fields right off the bat with two runs in the first and two more in the fifth before the senior exited after 90 pitches.
The Florida Gulf Coast recruit surrendered four earned runs on five hits and five walks while striking out four.
“I felt like I came out and I wasn’t hitting with all my pitches at first but I feel like I settled in,” Fields said. “I just feel like we came out real flat. We didn’t want it as much as they did it seemed like.”
Bishop Moore started the game with three straight hits. Seth Martin led off with a double and Bobby Spitulski reached on an infield single before Kyle Mock singled to get the Hornets (20-10) on the board. Martin later scored on a single by Quinton Martinez to give Bishop Moore a 2-0 lead.
Fields worked his way out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts and retired 10 of 13 before the Hornets chased him after two more runs in the fifth.
“As soon as I saw we were the home team, I saw it as a disadvantage,” Hanrahan said. “A lot of times in these games there’s such a high intensity in the first inning that visiting team comes out and puts a couple of runs on the board. It’s not unusual in a high-pressure game for the visiting team to come out and score runs.
“It wasn’t like we were giving it up — it was two runs and we were still in the game after point. I didn’t think it was over by any means after that first inning.”
Bates, who started last year’s state semifinal loss for Bishop Moore against Miami Minsignor Pace, said the early runs settled him down before he even threw a pitch.
“I was able to go out there and pitch with a lead. My coaches have been preaching all year to pitch with a lead, fill up the zone and let your defense work,” Bates said. “Those runs really helped me out a lot.”
While the Manta Rays struggled to reach base, the Hornets had not shortage. Bishop Moore drew 11 walks to go with seven hits against Fields and three relievers.
Fields walked three through the first two innings and then two more in the fifth, loading the bases in the process. The Hornets made him pay with an RBI off a fielder’s choice from Martinez and a sacrifice fly by Parker Thompson to extend the lead to 4-0.
Bishop Moore struck for three more in the sixth against Jacob Treece, who walked the bases loaded and exited without recording an out. Zach Taylor came in in relief and allowed two of those runners to score on another walk and a wild pitch.
After another walk by Taylor loaded the bases, it was Tyler Kreissler’s turn on the mound.
He struck out one before giving up an RBI single to Thompson. Fabian Escalante nearly scored as well, but was thrown out at the plate by Treece.
The Hornets tacked on another run in the sixth on another RBI single by Mock, who went 2-for-5.
While the Manta Rays were disappointed with Wednesday’s result, Hanrahan believes a solid foundation has been laid for his program.
“I graduated from Lemon Bay High School and I wanted to come back and let people know that it’s not a pushover school — it can have a great baseball program,” Hanrahan said. “I think it’s building. I think it has the potential to grow as time goes on.”
BISHOP MOORE 8, LEMON BAY 0
Bishop Moore 200 023 1 — 8 7 1
Lemon Bay 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
WP: Josh Bates. LP: Trey Fields. Leading hitters: (BM): Kyle Mock 2-2, 2 RBI, 3 BB; Quinton Martinez 1-4, 2 RBI. (LB): Fields 1-3. Records: Bishop Moore 20-10, Lemon Bay 19-10.