Prep baseball | Lakewood Ranch rally comes up short in seventh; Sarasota stays unbeaten

jdill@bradenton.comMarch 8, 2014 

Staff Photographer

Lakewood Ranch High School's Cameron Pearcey makes contact during Tuesday night's game against Palmetto High School. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald


LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Lakewood Ranch base runner Justin Otis stepped off first base to take a routine lead.

Except, this particular lead off had Sarasota head coach Clyde Metcalf and his staff smiling.

Otis, who delivered a critical two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, crept off the bag a bit too far, and Sarasota reliever Evan Mendoza picked him off to end Friday's district game.

The Sailors (7-0) held off host Lakewood Ranch's rally to earn a 7-5 victory.

"With a guy with a good pickoff move, we should know better enough to have a one-way lead back," Lakewood Ranch head coach Ryan Kennedy said. "It was a great throw."

The Mustangs fell to 5-4 overall and 1-4 in Class 7A-District 10.

Lakewood Ranch began the season knocking off Venice, the two-time defending state champon in Class 7A.

And a recent three-game winning streak gave the Mustangs a winning record heading into Friday's contest with

unbeaten Sarasota, which run-ruled Ranch earlier this season.

Unlike the previous encounter, the Mustangs were deadlocked 2-2 with the Sailors through five innings.

Then a one-out Sarasota rally from the bottom of its order coupled with three consecutive walks and an extra-base hit provided a four-run cushion.

The Sailors tacked on another insurance run in the top of the seventh inning before the Mustangs got the tying run to the plate during their seventh-inning rally.

"They did a great job of fighting back and putting the ball in play," Kennedy said. "That's the name of the game. You put the ball in play on the ground and you're going to make things happen. You saw it in the last inning."

Sarasota did most of its damage against Lakewood Ranch reliever George Corbitt, who entered with one out and runners on second and third in the seventh against the top of Sarasota's lineup.

He issued three straight walks before Brandon Chapman laced a two-run double down the left-field line.

That wrapped up Sarasota's damage in the frame.

However, the Mustangs, who had one hit over the first six innings, finally awoke their slumbering bats while down to their final three outs.

Matt Roberts began the rally with a single and advanced to third base on a fielder's choice and error. Colton Chupp, who started the game from the mound, drove Roberts in with a base hit.

After two consecutive outs, Otis launched a single to center to plate two more and cut Ranch's deficit to 7-5.

But that's when Mendoza, a right-hander, delivered his pickoff move to perfection.

"He has a tendency to pick a lot of guys off," Metcalf said. "We saw that kid take his lead and we were all kind of smiling over there, because we figured it might end right there. He's got a pretty good move for a right-hander, and he's done that before."

Cameron Pearcey (double, RBI) led Ranch hitters against the combination of Jordan Gubelman and Mendoza, who allowed four hits over seven innings.

Sarasota's offense was paced by Tyler Leonard (2-for-4, double, two runs), Chapman (2-for-3, two doubles, three RBIs) and Mason Dancer (3-for-4, double, run).

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