LAKE PLACID - Tyler Carr threw six shutout innings and knocked in three runs, as Lake Placid shut out McKeel Academy 5-0 in a critical Class 4A-District 9 baseball game Tuesday night at the Roger Scarborough Memorial Sports Complex.
"We have definitely improved," said Lake Placid coach D.W. Daum. "We're swinging the bats a little bit better and getting smarter on the base paths."
The decisive win improved the Dragons to 2-2 in district play and 3-7 overall. McKeel dropped to 4-7 on the season and 2-2 in 4A-9 play.
After struggling earlier in the year to find their rhythm behind the plate, the Green Dragons wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard against McKeel.
Isiah Velasquez led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk. Alex Miller advanced Velasquez to second with a sacrifice bunt, and Carr plated him with a booming double to the outfield fences.
Carr was unhittable through the first five innings. The Wildcats batters rarely got a ball out of the infield, and the only way they reached base was if Carr made a mistake and walked them. Carr pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing two hits, zero runs, and striking out six.
A primary factor in Carr's prowess on the mound was the stifling defense behind him. Miller made a bevy of highlight plays in the infield, snagging every ground-ball hit his way.
"Alex has really been key for us," Daum said. "It really helps Tyler's confidence to know that he's back there."
Lake Placid ran away with the game in the bottom of the third inning. The Dragons scored four runs to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
Velasquez opened the inning with a single, followed by Miller's attempt at a sacrifice bunt. McKeel's catcher gambled that the ball would roll foul, but it didn't and both men were safe.
With Carr up to bat, the Lake Placid ace blasted a two-run triple to give the Dragons a 3-0 advantage. Lane Daum hit a laser to McKeel's shortstop, who threw wide to first base, allowing Carr to scamper home. Justin Larosa smashed a line drive to plate Daum to round out the Dragons scoring.
"That was huge," Daum said. "Anytime you can give run support like that to your pitcher is great. It raises everybody's spirits."
After striking out McKeel's Bryce Barter to open the top of the seventh inning, Carr gave up a double to Eric Humphrey. Daum had seen enough by then, and he made the switch, replacing his ace with reliever Jacob Cram, much to Carr's chagrin.
"It was the right move," Daum said. "We set a pitch count for him and he reached it. And he'd thrown a lot of pitches the last two Fridays. So we pulled him out, but he pitched a great game."
Inserting Cram paid off, as he struck out two of the last three batters to shut the door on any hopes the Wildcats had of a making a comeback.
Now deep in the midst of their district schedule, the Dragons are hoping to string a few more wins together. Lake Placid hosts Mulberry (5-7, 2-2) Tuesday night at 7 p.m. It will be the first meeting between the Panthers and Dragons this season. Lake Placid swept last year's regular season series against Mulberry, drubbing the Panthers by scores of 14-4 and 12-0, respectively.
But Daum said the district has improved since then.
"I think we're all pretty comparable teams," he said. "We've played pretty well so far in our district games and we hope to get better as we go along."