EAGLES 8 RAMS 1
By Eric Horchy | Suncoast NewsEAST LAKE - East Lake successfully defended its own turf Saturday afternoon, using a five-run outburst in the sixth inning to pull away from Ridgewood and win the Lee Byers Invitational Tournament championship, 8-1.
Published: February 16, 2013
Published: February 16, 2013
Despite only recording one hit in the decisive frame, the Eagles sent 10 batters to the plate and drew five walks. Catcher Grant Hodges delivered the knockout blow when he sent a bases-loaded triple to left that Ridgewood’s Jake Treloar couldn’t get to.
"It felt good," Hodges said of the hit, his third of the night. "I wasn’t sure if it was going to hang up there because I got a little too much air under it. But I just wanted to go with the pitch because the kid wasn’t throwing very hard and I was trying to stay back."
Hodges’ base-clearer likely would have landed safely out of Treloar’s reach under normal conditions, but Saturday’s strong winds gusting in from center field affected most balls hit in the air.
"It wasn’t really tough but it was more annoying than anything else," the senior said. "It’s baseball. You’re going to have some games where it’s blowing in, some games blowing out and some games where the wind’s not moving."
Hodges finished his big day going 3-for-4 with a triple, double and single, three RBIs, three runs scored and a stolen base.
For East Lake, the win brought the Lee Byers title trophy back home for the first time since 2010 and since Dan Genna began coaching the team.
"We haven’t won our tournament since my freshman year, but I was on the practice squad then," Hodges said. "So this is a pretty big deal. Not only haven’t we won our own tournament but we haven’t even gotten into the finals the last couple years. This is a good way to start of the year."
Genna agreed it’s nice to take the title for the first time in his three years, but that the primary objective is facing quality competition early in the season.
"You want to see some good teams early because it makes you better later. So [winning’s] not really the main focal point. You want to win, but you have three games and you face three pretty good teams."
This year’s tournament featured eight teams from Pinellas and Pasco counties, six of which were 2012 district champions. East Lake won consecutive 5-4 games over Anclote and then Osceola to qualify for Saturday’s title game.
After losing last year’s staff ace Eric Hanhold to graduation, Genna said evaluating pitching performances was priority number one this week. Through three games, he is pleased with what he’s seen.
"Right now the focal point was the pitching. We spent a lot of time on that and through three games I think we have a team ERA under 1.00."
Sophomore Ryan Wall earned the victory on Saturday by limiting Ridgewood to one run and three hits over 4 1/3 innings of work. Wall struck out four and walked only one.
Ridgewood’s Robert Cummines was saddled with the loss, but had limited East Lake to three runs over five innings. The Rams trailed just 3-1 when Cummines’ outing ended.
Joining Hodges with nice days for East Lake were Keegan Maronpot (2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Brad Deppermann (1-for-2, 2 RBI, 2 SB, BB) and Doug Rovello (1-for-3, 2 R, 2 SB, BB).
As a team, East Lake drew eight walks and stole seven bases.
Dante Valenti’s extended work in relief helped the Eagles remain ahead on the scoreboard. His 2 1/3 innings were highlighted by getting East Lake out of the fifth inning’s two-on, two-out jam.
Ridgewood leadoff hitter Joseph Hloska recorded two of the Rams’ four total hits, going 2-for-4 overall. The other two hits (all four were singles) came on consecutive at bats in the third inning and resulted in Ridgewood’s only run of the day. Cummines followed up Tim Osbornes’ single and stolen base with a blooper that found the grass in shallow left field.
In Saturday’s third-place game, Mitchell shutout Osceola, 5-0, behind Cobi Johnson’s complete-game effort on the hill.
RW - 001 000 0 --- 1-4-1
EL - 100 115 x --- 8-7-2
WP – Ryan Wall
LP – Robert Cummines