Diamond Sharks keep focus against Saints

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By Jenna McKenna

Sharks baseball put together another big win against 2A St. John Lutheran Ocala, coming back from a two-run deficit early on to make a decisive 7-3 finish. They got a huge boost in the fifth inning from a three-run homer by Evan Lyons.

"We started off down two," said Sharks' head coach Joe Bishop. "But then we got a run and got everything started."

St. John's Vinnie Carrizzo got a leadoff single to left in the first inning and stole around, to be driven in by Austin West. The Saints led 1-0 into the fourth inning, when Cedar Key starter Aaron Esposito, working with two outs and ahead in the count, hit Tyler Pye, who came in on Carrizzo's single.

Now the Sharks were working from a 2-0 deficit. With one out and none on, Shawna Fenton walked, then stole around to third. Billy O'Dell walked behind her and stole second. On the next pitch, Fenton stole home, putting Cedar Key on the board.

With a mark on the scoreboard, the Sharks went to the plate with renewed intent. C.J. Parks led off in the fifth and was hit by the pitch. Richie Rain got on with a walk. When Lyons came up with one out and two on, he took Saints' starter Justin Wilson to full count before lacing the ball over the right field fence, bringing home Parks and Rain to up the score to 4-2, Cedar Key.

Goaded, St. John scored once more in the top of the sixth, when Mark Pantages reached second on an infield error. He was brought in by Carrizzo, but that was all the scoring for the Saints.

The Sharks were just getting started, though. Submariner Seth Farley replaced Wilson on the mound for St. John, but Cedar Key was patient at the plate, prepared to wait him out. Fenton drew another walk from the leadoff spot in the sixth, and Alford followed her on when he was plunked by Farley. Parks poked a little single up the middle to load the bases.

Coach Bishop then subbed Justin Esposito into the lineup for Richie Rain, sending the small but able hitter to the plate. Farley, expecting a much taller target, managed one strike but lobbed the other four pitches past Esposito's eyebrows, walking him and bringing Fenton home. Alford and Parks scored on passed balls, bringing the score up to 7-3 Sharks.

Good pitching and good defense allowed the Sharks to hold down the Saints til they could get their bats started. Esposito had three strikeouts and kept the ball low, and the infield worked nicely. In the top of the fifth, starting catcher Evan Lyons gunned out West as he tried to steal second. In the top of the seventh, Lyons, now pitching, covered home to tag out Farley as he tried to score. Ian McNulty had some very nice catches in center field.

"We had a good defensive game, but it really helped us when Evan put one over the fence," said Bishop. "We started playing some ball."

Sharks baseball is at home against Bell on Tuesday, April 15 at 5 p.m.