College Sports

Former player enjoys triumphant return to SCF

MANATEE -- Al Corbeil came to Robert C. Wynn Field wearing a different uniform in a different dugout.

Corbeil used to play for the then-Manatee Community College Lancers and veteran head coach Tim Hill.

On Friday night, Corbeil was making his first appearance against Hill at Wynn Field as the first-year head coach for the Polk State College Vikings.

It was the conference home opener for State College of Florida.

Corbeil’s club scratched out two ninth-inning runs and used a sensational pitching performance to take a second straight game against the tradition-rich Manatees, 3-2 in the three-game series that wraps up today.

“That’s, obviously, one of the best programs in the country,” said Corbeil, who holds several SCF hitting records, including career hits and RBIs. “And I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m at if I didn’t my years as a player and then as a coach under Coach Hill.”

What Corbeil got Friday night was a complete game from Brian Johnson, who improved to 3-0.

The freshman right-hander threw several breaking balls that kept the Manatees (15-7 overall, 0-2 Suncoast Conference) off-balance throughout the game.

“I don’t know if we’re trying to intentionally conserve any kind of pitch count,” said Corbeil, who is Hill’s son-in-law. “We’re just trying to get everything we can out of him, and he was phenomenal.”

Countering Johnson on the hill was SCF’s Nick Goody (4-0), who struck out 19 batters in eight innings just one week earlier.

This time, Goody fanned six batters in the first two frames before finishing seven strong innings with 11 K’s.

He also limited the Vikings to just three hits and an unearned run.

Former Sarasota High standout Casey Eskew relieved Goody for the last two innings. After a scoreless eighth, Eskew loaded the bases against Polk’s bottom of the order.

Nine-hole hitter Nestor Ayala struck for a two-run single that armed the Vikings with their first lead.

“You can’t come in and walk a couple guys in the ninth like we did,” Hill said. “And expect to pitch behind ... you just can’t do that.”

Corbeil said he has learned as much from Hill as he has from anyone.

“It’s tough to say any one thing,” he said. “I’ll say more or less, just the philosophy of trying to drill in the fundamentals as much as possible. And trying to get your guys to mentally prepare. He does that as well as anybody. He keeps his players accountable, which is another thing that makes a big difference.”

Brandon Patterson went 2-for-4 to lead the Manatees.

The clubs play at 2 p.m. today at Polk State College.

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