Junior college baseball | SCF offense explodes in conference victory

jdill@bradenton.comMarch 16, 2014 

Staff Photographer

State College of Florida catcher Scott Williams, right, meets on the mound with pitcher Dustin Hagy during Tuesday's game against the Broward County Seahawks at SCF in Bradenton. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

PAUL VIDELA — pvidela@bradenton.com Buy Photo

BAYSHORE GARDENS -- Ace Reggie McClain gave the State College of Florida baseball team the lift it needed after a couple poor results in Friday's series opener against rival St. Petersburg College.

That momentum carried over to Saturday's Suncoast Conference game against the Titans at Robert C. Wynn Field as the Manatees offense awoke to score a 14-6 victory.

The win improved SCF's overall record to 18-8 and its conference mark to 5-3. The Manatees have the fewest losses in the five-team conference.

"I think they are maybe just pressing too much to get the job done, and then they start chasing some pitches they shouldn't be swinging at instead of waiting for a good ball to hit," SCF head coach Tim Hill II said.

The good vibes began before the first pitch as both clubs' reserves remained standing in a staredown after the national anthem was played. The plate umpire instructed St. Pete to head to its dugout first, before doing the same for the Manatees, and that sparked cheers for the SCF players.

When the game began, it was SCF's offense that did the talking by plating six runs in the first inning.

The key hit was Justin Garcia's two-run double down the left-field line. He went the opposite way, which was something Hill said he wanted from his players.

"It was nice to see him use the whole field and hit the ball well to left field," Hill said.

Another big factor in the change in approach at the plate was SCF showcasing plate discipline right from the outset against St. Pete starter Robbie Coursel. Danny Lee and Ryan Valdes drew walks to open the bottom of the first.

SCF, which has been plagued by stranding runners throughout the year, notched another six-run frame in the fourth inning.

Garcia tallied his second double of the day in that six-run inning. Four St. Pete errors helped the rally.

"I've been struggling the past couple weeks," Garcia said. "... My swing's been a little long. I feel like I've been seeing the ball well. ... Just trying to stay short and hit to the backside lately, and it's been kind of helping out."

The Manatees plated a double-digit run total for the first time since mid-February and received multi-hit games from several players. They included Scott Williams (2-for-4, RBI), Sean Trent (2-for-5, run, two RBIs), Alex Pinero (2-for-5, two runs, RBI), Garcia (2-for-6, two doubles, two runs, three RBIs), Corey Reid (3-for-5, run) and Lakewood Ranch product Tyler Dauphinee (3-for-4, run, walk, RBI).

The decision to give Williams some rest from behind the plate gave Dauphinee the chance to shine.

"You always want to make the most of your opportunity," Dauphinee said. "Whenever you're on the field, you want to give it 100 percent. Whether you're starting every day or you are starting once a week, you want to go out there and give it your best."

For St. Pete, Corey Baptist launched two two-run home runs to highlight a three-hit game. Cornelius Copeland (2-for-5, two doubles), Trey Amburgey (double) and Joey Koehler (2-for-4) led the offense, too.

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