ENGLEWOOD — Before Dunbar recorded its first defensive out, Lemon Bay had already walked to an early lead in the District 5A-12 opener.
Drawing seven first-inning walks, Lemon Bay forced the Tigers (1-23) to burn through three pitchers, who gave up seven runs in the inning. Lemon Bay (7-16) cruised to a 15-0 victory and will play the winner of DeSoto/Lake Placid at home on Thursday.
“It went by the script tonight,” Lemon Bay coach Dan Flaherty said. “We talked about throwing strikes for pitcher, we didn’t have a walk tonight. We talked about a good approach to the plate, we hit the ball really well, made some loud outs. It was exactly what we needed to do.”
After a 1-2-3 first inning on the mound for Lemon Bay’s Tyler Intihar, the Mantas switched their focus to plate discipline.
Sebastian Daubner opened with a lead-off walk before stealing second and advancing to third on an errant throw. That set up an RBI single for Flynn Stewart to plate the first run.
Two more walks gave Tyler Kreissler bases loaded as he hit a soft chopper back to the pitcher. An error on the throw home allowed two runners to score. Chris Diemer scored on a passed ball with Intihar at the plate to make it 4-0.
Lemon Bay earned two more walks and another run before Dunbar got the first out, which came on a sacrifice fly to left field to score Kreissler. The Mantas scored seven runs on just one hit in the inning.
“That’s what we talked a lot about, just trying to get into good counts and find the pitches and they did a nice job of that,” Flaherty said.
Lemon Bay plated a run in each of the ensuing innings — an RBI single from Tim Caldwell and steal home from Josh Gossett — and allowed just one baserunner.
Intihar got his job done on the mound, pitching three shut-out innings allowing one hit with eight strikeouts.
Lemon Bay pushed six runs across in the fourth to give it the mercy rule win. Colin Gamber hit a two-RBI double, Richie Olivia an RBI single, Kreissler smoked a two-RBI single to the center field fence and Matt Lintz ended it with an RBI single.
Gossett took three pitches to the shoulder for the team.
The win was a strong opening for the Mantas, but they don’t intend to let that go to their heads. They have bigger plans.
“We’re talking about one game at a time, doesn’t matter who the opponent is,” Flaherty said. “We’re preparing the same way every time with our focus and energy. It doesn’t matter if it’s the state championship game or the first round of Districts.”