AVON PARK - The Avon Park baseball team used timely hitting and solid pitching to knock off Lake Placid by a score of 8-2 in Class 4A-District 9 action on Friday night at Charles R. Head Field.
The victory was the Red Devils' fourth in a row and improved their record to an impressive 10-2 overall and 4-1 in district play.
"Hopefully we still continue to get better and better before districts next month," said Avon Park baseball coach Whit Cornell. "There are some things that we still need to work on. It's good to see our team come back after committing an uncharacteristic four errors against a good team."
Lake Placid had its four-game winning streak snapped by the loss and dropped to 4-7, 3-3.
Starting pitchers, Tyler Carr for Lake Placid, and Daniel Simons for Avon Park, got through the first two innings unscathed. Carr, assisted by an inning-ending double play in the first inning and two strikeouts in the second.
Simons worked through defensive errors in the first two innings without giving up a run, but was unable to do so in the third.
Paul Cantwell led off the third with a shallow fly ball single into center field. With one out, he reached second on a ground ball by Alex Miller that the first baseman was unable to handle. He scored on a single into left field by Carr.
The left fielder bobbled the ball, causing the throw to the plate to be late and allowing Cantwell to score. Avon Park's catcher, unable to make the play at the plate was able to gun down Miller, who was attempting to advance to third on the play.
The Green Dragons held on to their tentative 1-0 lead after three innings when Carr was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded situation with an inning-ending strikeout.
Simons, unfettered by being behind, gave up just one hit over the next three innings while holding the Green Dragons scoreless.
On pace with Simons, Carr struck out all three batters he faced in the fourth inning and the first two batters in the bottom of the fifth for six consecutive and nine total.
Then his mastery of the strike zone disappeared and his reliable defense failed.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Carr was steaming past Red Devil batters. Then he hit Luis Martinez and walked Alfred Brown.
Tyrone Perry singled up the middle, as the center field raced in to field the ball and keep Martinez from scoring, the ball skittered under his glove past him and allowed both Martinez and Brown to cross the plate.
Another error on a ground ball hit by Mykel Gordon by the first baseman scored Perry as Avon Park took a 3-1 lead.
"It was a good game until the fifth," said Lake Placid coach D.W. Daum. "We played with them, it was just the errors in critical situations. We had more chances to score runs, we just did not put the ball in play when we needed to."
The Red Devils added five more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on one base hit, a double by Brown, and five walks and an error to increase their lead to 8-1.
Lake Placid added a run in the top of the seventh when Diego Mireles opened the inning with a shallow double into left-center field.
He scored on an errant throw by Simons to third base in a pickoff attempt.
Despite that, Simons completed the game for his fifth win of the season as Avon Park beat Lake Placid 8-2.
Despite the loss, Daum is pleased on how his team is playing, especially over the last five games. He noted that they have not been making errors and hitting the ball better.
"Our pitching has been good all year," the Green Dragon coach said. "Sometimes we run into the late innings and our relievers are not quite on. We'll compete, we just need to stop making errors."
Cornell praised his young pitcher, Daniel Simons, "He kept a cool head even though we made some errors behind him tonight, it was impressive to see from a high school pitcher, especially a freshman."
During spring break this week, both Lake Placid and Avon Park will be on the road. On Monday, the Green Dragons go the Wauchula to play the Hardee Wildcats.
Avon Park heads to DeSoto to play the Bulldogs on Tuesday and back south on Thursday to play the LaBelle Cowboys.