LAKE PLACID — If Heath Harris was worried about Bevis Construction being in a hitting slump, those fears were quelled Monday night.
Bevis came out slugging, and dispatched rival Lake Placid squad Howard Fertilizer by a score of 14-2 in a Dixie Boys (ages 13-14) baseball game at the Lake June Ball Fields.
“The bats really came around tonight,” Harris said. “The guys have worked really hard on their hitting and we just need to keep it up as we get closer to the district tournament.”
Jason Andrews got the ball rolling for Howard in the top of the first. The catcher blasted a double into center field, and then made his way to third on a passed ball. A wild pitch let him scamper home, and he just beat the glove of Bevis’ Erskin Toliver to put Howard up 1-0.
But the lead wouldn’t last for long.
In the bottom of the inning, Bevis cycled through its lineup, scoring seven runs. Bailey Bevis led off with a single, and Dylan Deford followed with a walk. Quesmael Sholtz plated Bevis with a double to tie the game, and a wild pitch let Deford sprint home to make it 2-1.
Wesley Clark kept the runs flowing, bringing Sholtz home with a double. Toliver followed with an RBI single, and Katwan Ward smashed the inning’s third double to plate Toliver, who scored all the way from first base.
A flurry of Howard errors kept the inning alive, and with runners on second and third, Bevis’ Michael Warner scored DJ Williams with a sacrifice fly. Ward scampered home on a wild pitch to cap the scoring.
Sholtz squashed any sort of potential retribution on the mind of Howard Fertilizer, as he retired the side easily to end the inning.
Back at the plate, Bevis nearly cycled through its lineup again, adding three more runs to take a commanding 10-1 lead.
Howard stopped the bleeding in the top of the third. Brandon Monroy was hit by a pitch to reach first, and Cody Jolley followed with a walk. After Monroy was caught trying to steal third, Kamari Brown plated Jolley with a sacrifice fly. Sholtz recovered to strike out Jason Andrews to end the inning with minimal damage.
Howard put Jolley on the mound in the bottom of the third. After fanning Deford, it look as if Jolley could spell Bevis’ offense, but Sholtz shattered that notion with a single to right field. Kyle Petteys then entered the game as a pinch hitter, and belted an RBI triple to score Sholtz.
Jolley walked Toliver, who promptly stole second, and Luke Sigrist plated Petteys with an RBI ground out. Williams followed with an infield single, and thanks to some confusion among Howard’s defenders, Toliver raced home to score. Tay Williams plated DJ Williams with a towering single to cap Bevis’ scoring at 14.
Shotlz worked quickly in the top of the fourth. Forcing Buddy Jolley into a ground out, he allowed two walks before retiring Reggie Jones and Hunter Hall to secure the win.
With the conclusion of the Dixie Boys season less than 10 days away, Harris said there’s not much he wants to tinker with. But he added that working on the team’s mental toughness is vital.
“The hardest thing for us is remembering to stay focused when we have a big lead,” he said. “When we come out and play good defense and keep our head in the game, we’re almost unbeatable.”
Bevis Construction and Howard Fertilizer are off until Monday. Both teams will be at the Max Long Sports Complex, with Howard taking on Sebring Tractor Service while Bevis squares off against Sweet Frogs for the third time this season. Both games start at 6:30.