Prep baseball | Big fifth inning gives Palmetto season sweep of Lakewood Ranch

Palmetto, Ranch will meet in tourney

jlembo@bradenton.comApril 11, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- One coach commented on a victory.

Another on a defeat.

But Phil Olson and Ryan Kennedy shared one common thread: They wanted their respective teams to put Wednesday's game behind them.

On the strength of a big fifth inning, Olson's Palmetto Tigers downed Kennedy's Lakewood Ranch Mustangs 8-5.

The two are Class 6A-District 12 rivals, but because each district team is required to play each other once, Wednesday's game did not count in the standings.

The next time the Tigers and Mustangs meet, however, everything will be on the line -- Lakewood Ranch will travel to Palmetto in a district quarterfinal in about two weeks, with the winner heading to the semifinals and the loser heading home.

The Tigers (9-12) won both regular-season meetings, including the one that earned Palmetto the district tournament's fourth seed.

But Olson doesn't want that fact inflating his players' heads when the teams meet again.

"It does help with the confidence, but I've been in that position before," Olson said, "where I've beaten by a team twice during the year and then we go into district tournament play and you go, 'We beat these guys twice already.' And you get lax, and then they come out and take it to you. So the main thing is we stay focused, we do what we're supposed to do, take care of our responsibilities and the rest will take care of itself."

Palmetto blew open a 2-2 game with a six-run fifth inning, which began when Tyler Bench walked and came around to score on Garrett Wilson's double. Mustangs reliever Jorge Corbitt nearly left the bases loaded, but Tyler Ramsey's infield hit plated a run and Jared Taylor's chopper bounced over the head of shortstop Justin Greenaway to drive in two more.

The Tigers tacked on two more runs on a RBI singe by Bench and a wild pitch.

"Corbitt did a great job of coming in, battling and getting some quick outs," Kennedy said. "All of a sudden you get a bouncer over the head of our shortstop and the gates open. (The Tigers) do a great job of battling. That's a scrappy ballclub over there."

Brad Zunica drove in two runs for the Mustangs (10-11), who lead 2-0 after the first inning.

Blas Rodriguez went six innings for Palmetto to earn the win before sophomore Noah Williams locked down the final three outs for the save. Adonis Bonilla came within a home run of hitting for the cycle for the Tigers.

"We just told our guys that right now, this is just preparing us for the district tournament," Kennedy said. "Every team, once they get to that district tournament, starts 0-0. That's where it counts."

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