SEBRING — Having a veteran team is something a coach looks forward to at any level of baseball. Pool Paradise, which has a talented, experienced roster, flexed its muscles in a big way by hitting three home runs in a 14-5 win over Hornick Homes in Dixie Ozone Baseball (ages 10-12) on Tuesday night at Max Long Complex.
The impressive win improved Pool Paradise to a perfect 5-0 on the season with four games rained out.
“We’re an older team,” said Pool Paradise coach Anthony Gaines. “That’s how it works in this league. When you’re one of the older ones, you’re one of the better teams.
“We were young and went through the bumps and paid our dues and now we’ve got a pretty solid team.”
Hornick Homes, which won its first game of the season on Monday night, dropped to 1-5.
Pool Paradise got rolling in the top of the first inning against Hornick Homes right-hander Brandon Gonzalez.
Zach Doorlag reached on an infield error, advanced to second on a ground out and raced home on an RBI single to center field by Drew Morris. Junior Algate singled and Nick Piccone roped a single to center field to plate Morris for a 2-0 lead.
Morris set the Hornick Homes offense down in the bottom of the frame and the Pool Paradise offense went back to work.
Doorlag blasted a two-out solo home run over the left-field fence and Desmond Gaines, who went 3-for-5 at the plate, unloaded a towering shot over the center-field fence.
Morris singled to left field, a trio of errors allowed two runs to score and Zach Kresser ripped an RBI double to left-center field to give Pool Paradise a commanding 7-0 lead.
“We hit the ball well and we’re starting to sit back on pitches,” Coach Gaines said. “We’re learning to adjust from fast pitching to slow pitching and trying to get our timing down. We want them to sit back and drive the ball and they’ve been doing a good job of that.”
Hornick Homes tallied a run in the bottom of the inning as Ramsey Hornick reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second base on a walk and scored on a pair of wild pitches to make it 7-1.
The potent Pool Paradise offense plated a pair of runs in the top of the third inning, including a solo homer from Desmond Gaines for a commanding 9-1 lead.
Hornick Homes continued to battle in the bottom of the third inning as Gonzalez doubled, moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored on the front end of a double steal.
Owen Lowe ripped an RBI single to left field to score J.J. Evans to trim the deficit to 9-3.
Pool Paradise added to its lead in the top of the fifth with Anthony Burch capping the inning with a run-scoring single to center field to make it 14-3.
Hornick Homes refused to go quietly and managed to score a pair of runs before the final out was made at the plate on a great relay throw to seal the victory.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Coach Gaines said. “The young teams are behind at the start of the season, but come the city tournament they’ll be much improved.
“Hopefully we don’t peak too soon and we stay hot the whole season.”
In other Dixie Ozone action from Tuesday night, Firemen defeated Elite Plumbing by a score of 13-2.
Pool Paradise plays Elite Plumbing on Thursday night, while Elks takes on the Firemen.