By STEVE JACKSON
South Shore baseball highlights were dominated last week by the Riverview Sharks, who played lights out with three lopsided victories, running their winning streak to five. Now, this week, the Sharks, under Coach Joshua Smith, face a more formidable foe as they seek to stretch their skein to six straight. The powerful 13-3 Durant Cougars host the Sharks on the outskirts of Plant City, Thursday, April 8. After a Saturday morning game at Riverview with 5-12 Armwood at 10, the Sharks renew a rivalry with Lennard at Ruskin ,Tuesday evening, April 13.
The Sharks went into last week with two straight wins, and then the Riverview team went wild, scoring 40 runs in romps over Blake, 16-4; Lennard, 10-0; and Spoto, 14-2, last Thursday.
Riverview’s senior outfielder, Nathan Lalond, had a career night against Blake. Lalond mashed three home runs, garnered eight RBIs and scored four runs. The Sharks offense came from up and down the line-up. Caden Santucci went two for three and tallied three runs. Junior Fisher Weeks collected one hit, scored one run and knocked in three runs. Riverview sophomore hurler Kevin Hunter started and was the recipient of this overwhelming support. Hunter went five innings and struck out eight while yielding four Blake runs, two unearned. Showing his versatility and his arm, Lalond mopped up on the mound.
At mid-week, junior Sharks ace Nate Hook held Lennard to a pair of hits. Meanwhile, the Sharks broke open a scoreless game with six runs in the top of the fifth and four scores in the top of the sixth. Hook put up another goose egg in the bottom of the sixth, ending the game on the mercy rule. Riverview’s junior John Smith led the offensive onslaught, going two for four, scoring two runs and compiling five RBI on a night that included Smith’s first home run of the season.
Riverview wrapped up the week by devouring Spoto on the Spartans diamond, 14-2. Spoto actually jumped out to a 2-1 lead after two innings, but that aberration quickly ended with a five-run Sharks’ fourth inning, capped off with seven runs in their final at bat. At the plate, Santucci went three for four, scored a pair and knocked in three. Other offensive support was supplied by soph Farah Castillo with four RBIs on a two for three night while scoring two. The Sharks pitcher Lucas Chun settled in and held the Spartans at bay, aided on the mound by Kipp Kochera, Victor Peinado and Chris Tavarez.
Over at Big Bend Road, the 11-6 East Bay Indians host two home games this week. First up was the early-week game with the 7-10 Brandon Eagles. On April 8 the powerful 15-3 Hillsborough Terriers visit East Bay. The Indians then hit the road April 13, visiting 6-9 Robinson.
East Bay received another fine mound performance from Andrew Pierce in the early-week 4-1win over the Sickles Gryphons. East Bay made the April 1 trip to 12-5 Bloomingdale and came home empty. The Indians managed only four scattered hits, while the Bulls used two big stanzas to claim the Valrico game 8-0.
Lennard, 4-8, had a disastrous week at home, losing all three games in the corral last week. Looking to bounce back, Lennard made a Lithia trip to combat 9-7 Newsome for an early-week game. The Longhorns then hosted the Wolves, April 7. Another home game with Robinson, April 9, provides yet another opportunity for Coach Victor Martinez to get back to playing .500 ball.
The Longhorns could never find their bats last week. Lennard dropped a 10-0 rout to Riverview after holding the Sharks to a scoreless draw through the first four innings. The Horns then collapsed, yielding six runs in the fifth and four in the sixth. The Longhorns scratched out only two hits and lost by the mercy rule against the outstanding pitching of Sharks Nate Hook. Longhorn pitching was better against Durant at mid-week, but Durant’s Zander Fisk twirled a one-hitter to best Horns Jack Mueller 2-0. The week ended on a sour note as the Horns committed four errors in a 6-2 loss to Hillsborough last Friday. Freshman Matthew Counts went four for four for Lennard, and Joseph Rivera had two hits. Freshman Zack Bird could not stop the Terriers, giving up five Dog runs, three of them earned.
Sumner, the new kid on the block, has four crucial games coming up this week and next as the Stingrays continue to battle to improve their 3-2 5A-D8 record. Coach Kennedy Duran’s Sumner squad played 6-9 Robinson April 6. Another non-conference match with hapless 0-11 Blake in Tampa follows April 8. After a Saturday trip to 8-7 Jefferson, Sumner has a big home game Monday, April 12. This conference match with 7-10 Brandon takes on extra importance as the Eagles bring a 4-1 conference record and are one game ahead of the Stingrays in 5A-D8 standings.
Last week, Sumner used the clutch pitching of Joe Cabrales and flawless fielding to squeak past Spoto, 5-4. Gabriel Mangual used his speed to score two runs on two walks. The Stingrays could not contain Wharton or dent the scoreboard in a 10-0 loss to Wharton on April Fools Day. Three Wildcat pitchers combined to no hit Sumner in a mercy rule game. Saturday brought no relief to the Stingrays, losing a conference game 14- 6 to conference rival King. The Rays bats came to life with 11 hits, but King plated four runs in the first and four in the second inning and coasted to its win.
Spoto experienced a tough week, losing 5-4 at Sumner and 14-2 to Riverview at Spoto. The Spartans have a fighting chance for a second win of the season this week, facing three teams with losing records. On April 6, the 2-11 Tampa Bay Tech team hosted Spoto. Middleton’s Tigers come to Spoto April 8 with a 3-11 worksheet. The week closes for Spoto with 6-9 Robinson in Tampa at 10 a.m. Saturday. Next Monday evening King visits Spoto.