LAKE PLACID — This early in the Dixie Boys (ages 13-14) baseball season, most coaches are just trying to get a feel for their team. But Izzy Gomez is confident that his sweetFrogs squad will be force to be reckoned with as the season rolls into summer.
“We’re just trying to have a good time right now,” Gomez said, whose sweetFrogs (2-0) team knocked off Bevis Construction by a score of 7-1 on Thursday night at the Lake June Ball Fields.
“It’s early in the season,” Gomez added. “We’re still learning where everyone’s at, tinkering with the lineup, and trying to have fun. But I think I’ve got a good group of kids here and I believe we’re going to be strong.”
SweetFrogs got on the scoreboard early against Bevis Construction (1-2), but utilized a five-run inning late in the game to pull away for a decisive win.
In the top of the first, Luis Perez came up with runners in scoring position. He blasted an RBI single to put sweetFrogs up 1-0. After Marshall Bond reached on a walk, the bases were loaded for Danny Cardoso, who had an RBI ground out to cap the inning.
Bevis Construction countered in the bottom of the second, capitalizing on an sweetFrogs error. With a runner on first, Dylan Deford launched a towering shot to right field. SweetFrogs’ players had some miscommunication, and bobbled the ball, letting Deford stride into second while Bailey Bevis came around to score.
Bevis Construction coach Randy Harris brought in Quesmael Sholtz to spell his team through the middle innings. Sholtz excelled, throwing two scoreless innings and fanning three batters. But a bevy of baserunning errors doomed his offense.
“We’ve got to work some more on our fundamentals,” Harris said. “We had the opportunities, but we just didn’t capitalize.”
It didn’t help that sweetFrogs’ defense was impenetrable. Bevis Construction made solid contact, belting its fair share of lasers into the outfield, but a sweetFrogs defender was always there.
“That’s what we’ve got to work on the most,” Harris said. “When we’ve got guys on base, we can’t leave it up to the umpires. We can’t stand there and watch strikes — we’ve got to put the ball in play.”
Trailing 2-1 to start the fifth inning, a Bevis Construction victory was still plausible. But sweetFrogs piled on five runs to run away with the game.
Clinton Patrick led off with a walk, and Josh Rivera followed with a sharply hit ground ball. Bevis Construction mishandled it, and Patrick scampered around from first base to score. Gabe Gomez and Perez blasted consecutive RBI singles to make it 5-1, and sweetFrogs loaded the bases before Harris made another pitching change.
Taking over on the mound, Erskin Toliver pitched well enough to get Bevis Construction out of the inning, but another error on defense let sweetFrogs tack on two more runs before the last out.
Rivera came on in relief for sweetFrogs to spell George Martinez, shutting the door on Bevis Construction. Rivera allowed one hit and struck out three to earn the save.
“Both pitchers threw the ball really well,” Gomez said. “I expected them to play well tonight, and they really showed me a lot.”
SweetFrogs and Bevis Construction both play again on Monday. SweetFrogs will play Sebring Tractor Service at Buzz Field at Max Long Complex while Bevis Construction plays Got Milk? at Kiwanis Field.