AVON PARK Nearly halfway through the Dixie baseball season, Publix is hitting their stride, racing to a 4-1 record after beating Utility Tec 10-0 on Thursday night at the Durrah Martin Sports Complex in Avon Park.
“The stats speak for themselves,” said Utility Tec coach John Beers after the game as his Avon Park team dropped to 1-4 for the season.
The stats that Beers eluded to be that Publix scored 10 runs on only two base hits. Though their pitchers tallied six strikeouts in five innings, they walked 10 and the defense committed six errors.
During that time, the Publix pitchers dominated on the mound as Trevor Thomas, Everett Hurst and Jay Bible combined for 11 strikeouts while only giving up one hit, one walk and hit one batter.
“We are playing well as a team,” said Publix coach Andrew Bible. “They work together well and somebody always steps up when we need them to.”
The tone of the game was set early as the first batters for Publix, Brandon Doty and Everett Hurst, reached base on walks.
Doty would score the first run of the game on a ground ball by Luis Lugo to second base that also advanced Hurst to third. Hurst scored a few moments later on a passed ball to give Publix a 2-0 lead.
Publix added three more runs in the second inning. Hunter Jolley, Andrew Cardoso and Chris Tolar walked to load the bases to start the inning. Jolley was tagged out trying to steal home on a passed ball, but errors on ground balls to the third baseman and shortstop led to Publix taking a 5-0 lead.
The third inning started out bright for Utility Tec starting pitcher Tyler Young as he struck out the leadoff batter for his fourth strikeout of the game. Then he walked three of the next four batters to load the bases.
Despite being in the bases loaded jam, Young was able to get Doty to hit into a potential inning-ending double play ball to second base. Instead of getting an inning over double play or even one out, the second baseman misplayed the ball and it rolled to this fence.
Not only did this clear the bases, it also allowed Doty to round the bases without a play at home as the error netted four runs and gave Publix a 9-0 after three innings.
Publix got their first hit of the game after this when Everett Hurst singled up the middle. Hurst would get both hits for Publix and ironically, neither one resulted in a run.
Publix added one more run in the fifth inning to make the final score 10-0.
At the moment, Publix trails only Pool Paradise in the Dixie standings. Pool Paradise is currently undefeated for the season.
Utility Tec’s next game is a rematch of this game as they travel to Sebring to play Publix on Tuesday. Then on Thursday they will be home at Durrah Martin as they face Helena from Lake Placid.
Publix will be busy next week as they are scheduled to pay three games, all in Sebring. On Monday they play Glisson’s and Tuesday they play Utility Tec. On Thursday they face Pool Paradise, the only team that they have lost to this season.