BRADENTON -- Danny Kerwin squared up an 0-1 pitch and hit a screaming liner toward third Friday night.
The ball bounced off the arm of Tyler Leonard, Sarasota's third baseman, and rolled right to shortstop Evan Mendoza, whose throw to first beat Kerwin by a few steps.
That's the kind of night it was for Manatee.
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"That's the kind of the year so far," said Hurricanes coach Dwayne Strong.
The Canes' season took another frustrating turn Friday with a 5-2 loss to the Sailors in a Class 7A-District 11 meeting.
It was a game full of ingredients that make for little sleep for a head coach -- a base running blunder, defensive miscues and the occasional bad break.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Strong said.
The Canes (2-6, 2-2) took a 2-0 lead in the third on an RBI double by Cord Sandberg and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Kerwin. Pitcher Weston Davis responded by retiring the Sailors on seven pitches in the top of the fourth.
One inning later, however, things unraveled.
Sarasota put runners on second and third with none out in the fifth before Davis got a hand on Jason Rivera's slow roller up the middle. Manatee third baseman Wesley Woodward alertly charged in, fired home and caught Shawn Bane Jr., pinch-running for an injured Dylan Busby, in a rundown. Davis eventually tagged Bane out before Evan Chapman's double trimmed Manatee's lead to 2-1.
Mendoza followed Chapman's hit by hitting a grounder to Woodward. But Woodward's throw to first sailed high, allowing two runs to score and giving the Sailors a 3-2 lead.
Davis pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the second and third innings and allowed five hits and one earned run in six innings of work.
"Like I told the kids, you've got to keep grinding," said Sarasota coach Clyde Metcalf, whose team improved to 3-1 in the district and 4-2 overall. "If you can keep applying offensive pressure, you're going to get those runs. And eventually, we broke through."
The Canes appeared to bounce back in the fifth, when Danny Lee led off with a double. But Lee reinjured his right foot rounding first, and pinch-runner Khalyd Cox was thrown out at third trying to advance on a ball in the dirt.
Manatee never threatened again.
"We've got to make plays, and that's the bottom line," Strong said. "We've got to make plays."
Sarasota salted the game away by scoring twice in the seventh on the strength of three hits and another Manatee error.
"I keep telling them, 'Somebody's got to make it better,'" said Strong, whose team graduated three starting infielders from last year. "You just can't hope that it's going to get better. You can't just go out and say, 'Well, we'll show up under the lights and this is Manatee and we're going to get better by osmosis.'
"Bottom line is we've just got to work harder."
The silver lining, Strong said, is Manatee has six more district games remaining, beginning with Tuesday's trip to Punta Gorda Charlotte.
That gives the Canes time to work out the kinks and get better.
"The great thing is you're not measured by the first 10 games of the season, you're measured by the last 10 games," Strong said. "That's the way you've got to look at it and have a positive outlook on it. If not, you will drive yourself crazy."