Manatee reliever P.J. Reed goes distance in Sarasota Baseball Classic victory

Manatee opensBlue Bracket playwith 5-1 triumph

jdill@bradenton.comMarch 26, 2014 

SARASOTA -- Prior to this week's Sarasota Baseball Classic, junior P.J. Reed's role as a pitcher for the Manatee Hurricanes came at the end of the games.

But on Tuesday, Reed featured as the Canes' starting pitcher for the first time this spring.

And he did not disappoint.

Reed went the distance, tossing 82 pitches in seven innings and allowing just five hits and two runs while striking out five batters as Manatee earned a 5-2 victory over Port St. Lucie in its tournament opener at the Buck O'Neil Complex in south Sarasota.

"He's been clutch for us all year," Manatee head coach Rob Viera said. "... He got behind on two hitters, 2-0, and those are the two balls that were hit in the outfield. Other than that, he kept the ball down."

The tournament, which was delayed due to the constant rain in the area on Monday, is divided into two brackets: the Red and the Blue.

Manatee (8-6) is one of six programs in the Blue Bracket, and took a step toward winning its pool with Tuesday's victory over the Jaguars.

"It's tough not knowing this team," Viera said. "They come from the east coast … And they're a good little program. They swung the bats. Defensively, they did things right. So to come out and play with them and beat them, it's great. Our kids are pumped and ready to go."

Manatee faces Flanagan and Riverview in a doubleheader on Wednesday to wrap up the pool play portion of the tournament, before Thursday's action matches up the seeds from each pool against each other.

That means if Manatee wins out, the Canes will top its group and play the winner of Pool A in Thursday's title game.

But in Tuesday's game, it didn't look like the Canes were going to figure out Port St. Lucie starter Tyler Anshaw.

At least, not at first.

The junior right-hander kept Manatee's bats in check in the first three innings by sending down nine of 11 hitters and not allowing a hit during the stretch.

Then with two outs and a runner on first base, Manatee rallied with three consecutive hits.

Kevin Acevedo, Chase Diaz and Orlando Ruiz generated the offense, while Robert Rew drew a walk to flip the order back to the top, where Khalyd Cox delivered another run-scoring single in the bottom of the fourth inning to account for the Canes four-run frame.

"All year it's been if our one-two don't step up, our eight and nine are stepping up in the games that we've been in and won," Viera said.

Manatee later tacked on another run in the sixth inning to cap its scoring. Ruiz led all Manatee hitters with a 2-for-3 day at the plate with two runs and an RBI.

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