AVON PARK — Baseball rules dictate that a team needs three outs to end an inning. But that wasn’t the case for Lake Placid against Frostproof on Monday night in the Class 4A-District 9 baseball tournament at Charles R. Head Field.
The Green Dragons needed four outs in the bottom of the seventh to thwart the Bulldogs, 7-4, in the opening round of the district tournament.
With two outs recorded, Lake Placid’s Paul Cantwell struck out Frostproof’s Cory Franks on a called strike three, but Dragons coach D.W. Daum had to alert the umpire of the strike count.
“At first I thought maybe I’d lost count,” Daum said. “But I walked down to my scorekeeper and she had the same thing. We thought we had the game won.”
Daum’s discussion with the umpire appeared to have clinched the win for the Dragons, and the players started celebrating. However, Frostproof coach Jeremy Byrd, countered that there were only two strikes, and launched a mini-tirade at the home plate. Players from both sides began to scuffle, and the game was on the brink of erupting into a fight.
But cooler heads prevailed, and much to the Dragons dismay, the umpires ruled that Cantwell hadn’t struck out Franks and that the count was full. The Dragons hurler walked Franks, but rebounded to fan Joshua Romero to give Lake Placid the win, this time for good.
The Dragons played county rival Avon Park in the 4A-9 semifinals on Tuesday night. Results were not available at press time, but check Thursday’s Highlands Today for the complete story and photos.
Lake Placid got off to a strong start offensively against Frostproof. The Dragons got on the scoreboard early, scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Tyler Carr plated Isaiah Velasquez with a booming double to center field.
Meanwhile, on the mound, Carr was electric, blanking the Bulldogs through the first three innings while allowing just two baserunners.
“I was going to leave him in as long as possible,” Daum said. “We had a pitch count for him, but in what was possibly the last district game of his high school career, I wanted to let him finish.”
The Dragons tacked on three more runs in the third to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Velasquez and Alex Miller drew consecutive walks, and an error by Frostproof’s shortstop let Carr load the bases.
Seizing the moment, Laine Daum blasted a two-run single to make it 3-0 in the Dragons favor. Daum and Carr promptly stole second and third to get into scoring position, and Justin Larosa brought Carr home with an RBI ground out to cap the inning.
Frostproof managed one run each in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Dragons exploded for three more runs in the sixth.
Jacob Cram led off with a walk, and scampered to third base when Frostproof’s pitcher made a slew of errors while trying to pick him off.
A wild pitch let Cram sprint home before another walk put Justin Mason on base. Gunner Smoak’s sacrifice bunt moved Mason into scoring position, while Cantwell singled to give Lake Placid runners on the corners.
Velasquez laid down the inning’s second bunt to score Mason. Lake Placid’s remaining baserunners scored on a slew of wild pitches to cap the Dragons scoring barrage.
Daum, who has been preaching the fundamentals to his players all season, saw what his team is capable of when it plays sound, mistake-free baseball.
“The kids paid attention tonight,” he said. “We didn’t have any errors, we hit the ball when we needed to, and we ran the bases well. We played smart.”
Lake Placid played county rival Avon Park in the second round of the district tournament on Tuesday night. Results were not available at press time, but be sure to read Thursday’s Highlands Today sports section for the complete story and photos.