SEBRING - Utilizing outstanding pitching and timely hitting, Sebring defeated Lemon Bay by a score of 6-2 in the district opener for both teams Tuesday night at Firemen's Field.
Everett Hurst tossed five innings of one-hit ball to earn the Class 5A-District 11 victory as the Blue Streaks improved to 5-3 overall and 1-0 in district play.
"We came out focused and with a lot of intensity," said first-year Sebring baseball coach Jasone DeWitt. "Everett was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and our defense made some plays behind him.
"We were able to get the win and that's a great way to start district play."
Lemon Bay struck first in Tuesday night's game as Ryan Conroy led off the second inning with a single, moved to second base on an error, was sacrificed to third and raced home on a sacrifice fly to left field by Alec Bigness to give the Manta Rays a 1-0 lead.
Sebring, which banged out 10 hits, answered in the bottom of the third inning as Jordan Austin lined a one-out double to left-center field, stole third base and scored on an infield single by Seth Cannady to tie the game at 1.
Hurst settled into a groove and the right-hander breezed through the Manta Rays lineup through four innings.
The Sebring offense went back to work in the bottom of the fourth as Ty Little lined a leadoff single, Josh Crouch singled and David DeGenaro smacked a single to left field to plate Little with the go-ahead run.
Jared Lang reached on an infield error and Austin lofted a sacrifice fly to score Crouch. A third run scored on a wild pitch and Jimmy Peck plated the final run on a sacrifice fly to give the Blue Streaks a commanding 5-1 lead.
Hurst, who allowed on run and struck out four, cruised through the top of the fifth inning by retiring Lemon Bay in order to finish his night.
The Manta Rays scored a run in the top of the sixth against left-hander reliever Jonathan Struck, but Sebring tallied a run in the bottom of the frame as Austin singled off reliever Christian Kunkel, moved to second on a single by Peck, stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Portis for a 6-2 lead.
Lemon Bay refused to go quietly, as the Manta Rays had runners at first and second base with one out, but Struck bore down to retire the next two hitters to seal the district victory for the Blue Streaks.
"We wanted to be a little better with guys in scoring position and we did a good job of that tonight," said DeWitt. "We put the ball in play with two strikes and made some good things happen with the bats. "We got solid pitching from Everett and Jonathan and this is the way we wanted to start district play."
Sebring hosts Seminole on Friday night and the Blue Streaks are at DeSoto on Tuesday.
"This is a great group of guys," said DeWitt. "They are high intensity and come ready to play ever day.
"I love being around them, our fans are great, the coaching staff is fantastic and I'm glad to be coaching the Blue Streaks."