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Cedar Key offense explodes in baseball finale

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By Sean Arnold

The Cedar Key boys baseball team avenged an earlier loss on the season to Ocala-Meadowbrook and sent out its lone senior in style on senior night last Thursday in Rosewood.

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And the result resembled more of a football score than a baseball game.

The Sharks scored multiple runs in five different innings and twice batted around the lineup to issue a 21-11 win in the season finale.

The varsity club finished with a 5-4 record.

Joey Stewart went 4 for 5 at the plate with a pair of doubles and three runs scored and tossed all six innings on the mound to lead CKS.

Cedar Key also enjoyed a couple of hits apiece from Kyle Stewart, Dillan Allen, and Ty Winfield, whose two-run double to deep center field sealed the 10-run rule victory.

“Sometimes we’re on the receiving end of those,” CKS coach Joe Bishop said. “The last time we played them they beat us 12-2; so we 10-runned them, they 10-runned us.”

Cedar Key had one player celebrating senior night, catcher Nathaniel Brinkman, who batted third with a double and a run.

Bishop took a moment after the game to talk to his senior one on one and later recalled Brinkman’s early days as a persistent middle schooler just trying to be a part of the team.

“I cut him his first year he came up, it was either sixth or seventh grade,” Bishop said. “And he showed up to every practice. He’d be out there with a rake, he’d have the field wetted down.

“About midway through the season, I had a player quit, so I gave (Brinkman) the jersey. He only maybe got one or two innings the whole season after that. The next year, he’s the first one out there raking the field down, getting everything ready.”

With a bevy of young talent coming up behind Brinkman, Cedar Key has reason to be optimistic about its future.

Bishop praised the work ethic of the up-and-comers, like the sophomore Stewart and Mikey Beckham.

“A lot of my younger guys have stepped up,” Bishop said. “Beckham, he’s trying to take a pitching role, a kind of leadership position. I drive by the field and see him out here throwing the ball a lot.

“Joey (Stewart’s) kind of like the backbone of the team right now,” Bishop added. “We rely a lot on him as far as his bat and his fielding and pitching, his knowledge of the game. He wants to win – it helps when you want to win and you’ve got guys that will follow.”