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Diamond Sharks lose to Shores, HCA

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By Jenna McKenna

Cedar Key baseball is getting off to a mixed start this year, winning their road opener against Meadowbrook but dropping the next two home games, 9-1 to Shores Christian on Thursday and 15-4 to Hernando Christian on Friday.

Head coach Joe Bishop started Evan Lyons against Shores, and Lyons had a very good outing, giving up one earned run, striking out 14 and walking only one in a complete game.

Shores had a pair of big innings on the night, with four runs in the second and three in the fifth. Cedar Key struggled at the plate with only three hits on the night, and carried the weight of that struggle into the field.

The Sharks got off to a nice start, as Lyons threw out the leadoff batter, Travis Bernard. Catcher Aaron Esposito likewise put out Colby Grahling and Lyons got Brock May swinging for a quick top of the first.

When Cedar Key came up to bat, Esposito led off with a walk and immediately stole second. Ian McNulty sacrificed to move him over and Ryan Alford brought Esposito home with a lined single to left. Alford was stranded that inning, but the Sharks went into the second leading 1-0.

Errors let Shores load the bases in the top of the second, and Daniel Rivera and Scott Schaming scored right away. Lyons dug in and fanned Aaron Lockhart and Jacob Grahling, but walked Chad Grenier. Bernard came up at the top of the order, and his double to center field brought in Grenier and Kyle Hadala, putting the Tigers up 4-1.

Looking to recover, the Sharks ran the bases well but had trouble putting the ball in play.

"We just didn't have our bats on us tonight," said Bishop.

Indeed, Billy O'Dell got on with a passed ball in the second and stole around, but was put out at home in a fielders choice. Jacob Crosby singled up the middle, but he and Zack Anderson were left stranded at the end of the inning.

Shores scored again in the fourth, then had another flurry in the fifth, then put on one final run in the seventh, while Cedar Key continued to sweat at the plate. Jacob Crosby had a two-out single to center in the bottom of the fourth for the Sharks and stole second, but was caught trying to take third.

"We should have got on our bats a little better," Bishop said afterward. "I think if we'd gotten a little further up, we'd have carried some more confidence into the field."

Bishop complimented Lyons' composure.

"He outpitched the other team. We just didn't back him up at the plate."

Friday's loss to Hernando Christian Academy was a different story, with the Sharks getting 14 hits and converting four runs, but still falling to the big-hitting Lions.

Bishop said he had expected a battle against a polished HCA team.

"They're a tough team, they play a lot of travel ball," he said before the game. "But if we keep our heads in the game and get our bats going, we'll be ok."

When it was over, Bishop was a little happier with the hitting, but not with the defense.

"We had our bats on a little better than last night," he said. "We're starting to hit, just not in the holes. We made too many errors tonight, though."