Prep baseball | Cameron Pearcey's homer leads Lakewood Ranch to rout of rival Braden River

jlembo@bradenton.comFebruary 22, 2013 

EAST MANATEE -- Cameron Pearcey's timing was perfect.

The Lakewood Ranch sophomore had not hit a home run since his Little League days more than three years ago for Manatee East.

In his first at-bat against host Braden River on Thursday night, the second baseman smacked a two-run homer that hit the top of the left-field fence and went over to lead the way in the Mustangs' 8-3 victory.

The best part is that his dad, Tony, who had flown in from North Carolina from a business trip, was rushing to get to see his son play and was walking along the right-field fence when he saw the ball go out.

"It was pretty great. I didn't think it was going out," Chris said. "It was a 2-0 fastball. The last time I hit a homer was as a 12-year-old all-star, and now I am 15. So it's been awhile. It's not in my game; it just happened. It was also my first extra-base hit of the year."

It was the third straight victory for Lakewood Ranch after it opened the season with a loss to Venice. Brad Zunica went 6 2/3 innings to pick up the victory. He did not allow an earned run, struck out five, walked two and gave up five hits.

The junior right-hander helped himself, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two doubles. His run-scoring double sparked a five-run third inning for the Mustangs.

"I was a little wild in the beginning but settled in after the second inning," Zunica said. "It feels good to get that monkey off my back. I wanted to finish, but we had a pitch count, and the coach was looking out for me."

Still looking for its first victory, Braden River dropped its third straight.

The Pirates got another big game from hot-hitting Dylan Lee, who went 3-for-3 with an RBI and is hitting at a .700 clip.

He also is playing the field earlier than expected coming off of knee surgery during the football season.

"One game it's defense, one game it's lack of hitting, and another it's poor pitching like we had tonight," Braden River head coach Mike Verrill said. "But it's early and there is no panic button to push. We are just working on getting better. This wasn't a district game; we didn't use our number one, two, three or four pitchers.

"Dylan is a tremendous hitter. Florida was looking at him and backed off when he hurt his knee, which is a big mistake on their part. If they were smart, they would come back. He is one of the best hitters this area has seen in a long time. He had a .1200 slugging average before tonight. He is for real."

Lakewood Ranch first-year head coach Ryan Kennedy was pleased to see his club take on the style he wants to play. He also couldn't help comparing Pearcey with Larry Cobb, who played second when Kennedy played short and the Mustangs won the state title.

Kennedy preaches defense, pitching and timely hitting. He was happy to see his team pull off four double plays.

"Cameron has a line-drive swing that sprays the field. He had a 2-0 count, and I told him one pitch, one spot, and the result was the home run," Kennedy said. "He reminds me of Larry. He is only a sophomore and that is a great thing about him. He loves the game and is a hard worker."

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