AVON PARK – Outstanding pitching by Trent Lewis and timely hitting paced Avon Park to a 5-0 win over Mulberry in Tuesday night’s semifinals of the Class 5A-District 8 tournament at Charles R. Head Field.
The Red Devils beat the Panthers for the third time this season to improve to 19-4 overall and clinch a spot in the district finals.
Avon Park will host McKeel Academy on Friday night for the Class 5A-District 8 championship. Win or lose, the Red Devils will play in a regional quarterfinal next week.
“The first win is the toughest to secure your spot in the playoffs,” said Avon Park head baseball coach Whit Cornell. “Trent Lewis pitched a great game and the guys played great defense behind them. We hit the ball well, Mulberry made some good defensive plays, they are a scrappy team that continued to improve throughout the season.”
Avon Park took a first inning lead after Cory Leech led off with a single into right field and Lewis reached on an error. With two outs, Avon Park catcher Matt Tyson hit a double to left-centerfield to drive in Leech and Lewis to put the Red Devils up 2-0 after the first inning.
Avon Park added to its lead in the bottom of the third, manufacturing a run after Leech hit a one-out single, Lewis walked and Leech stole third base. He raced home on a passed ball to give the Red Devils a 3-0 lead.
Avon Park capped off the scoring in the fifth inning. Cory Leech walked and Dayvon Terry fouled a ball off his right ankle. Terry needed a few moments to walk off the pain, but bounced back to hit the next pitch over the left-field fence, the ball barely staying fair, for a two-run homer to make it 5-0.
Lewis shut down the Mulberry offense and the Avon Park defense remained stellar as they did not allow a Mulberry baserunner, three in all, to advance past first base.
Lewis finished with a complete-game shutout. The junior only allowed a single in the fourth inning while striking out six and walking one.
Leech led the Red Devils with two hits and three runs scored, while Tyson and Terry each drove in two.
With the win, Avon Park will host the McKeel Academy Wildcats in the Class 5A-District 8 championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Charles R. Head Field.
Coach Cornell expressed a great appreciation of the support by the Avon Park community and hopes to see a large turnout in their quest to move forward in the playoffs.
Win or lose, Avon Park, which made it to the State Final Four last year, will play in a regional quarterfinal on Wednesday night.
Lake Placid 5, DeSoto 0
Lake Placid cruised past DeSoto by a score of 5-0 in Tuesday’s night’s Class 5A-District 10 semifinal game.
The victory moves Lake Placid, which improved to 10-11 overall, into tonight’s district championship game at Lemon Bay.
“We played a complete game,” said Green Dragon head coach Harry Tewksbury. “We had excellent pitching and just enough offense.”
Lake Placid’s JJ Huergo started and earned the win with three scoreless innings and Cody Jolley hurled spotless relief for the Green Dragons.
Lake Placid scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning on a bases-loaded throwing error by the DeSoto pitcher.
The Green Dragons tacked on a run in the second inning and another one in the sixth inning to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
DeSoto failed to score in its last at-bat to give Lake Placid the win.
The Green Dragons play at Lemon Bay tonight in the district title game. Lake Placid lost both games to Lemon Bay during the season.
Win or lose, Lake Placid will play a regional quarterfinal next week.
“We lost to Lemon Bay twice this season,” coach Tewksbury said. “We match up well with therm, but the boys seem to be intimidated by them. We beat Avon Park and Okeechobee this season and there as good or better than Lemon Bay. We need to play with confidence and see what happens.”