OAKLEAF – With both teams perched on top of the district 2-8A rankings, only one team would come out on top as the Golden Eagles flew over to Oakleaf to do some late afternoon jousting with the Knights en route to a 6-0 win Friday night.
“They made plays. That’s what happens when you have a senior on the mound and bunch of seniors behind him, you just get everything clicking” said Fleming Island Head Coach Grant Bigilin. “We kept it tight the whole game and played, probably, our most complete game of the year.”
Fleming Island, 13-6 overall, took command of the top spot with a 4-1 slate with Oakleaf at 2-2 with a 2-0 loss to Atlantic Coast, but with a 12-5 win over Fletcher who holds the best overall record at 18-3. Fleming Island won their final district game, 13-0 over Lee.
Through two innings, Fleming Island held the Knights to no runners on base, but couldn’t do anything with their own runners either. That was all broken up when Drew Homitz took advantage of the first of five errors made by the Knights, and was safely onboard. Homitz stole second, then waited there through the first out. Adam Peck hit to right field with a line drive RBI single. Safely on first base, Peck also noticed the long stretch of Oakleaf pitcher Logan Schmidt, and took off to steal second base. On the throw and misplay by Oakleaf, Peck watched his coach clear him to third base, then took off for home, 2-0 Golden Eagles.
“I think as a team, it’s all about the ups and downs,” said Bigilin. “We’re kind of peaking and trending at the right time. We just have to make sure we don’t have any dips, any valleys and keep that momentum rolling.”
Oakleaf had no counterpunch and were back in the field after a Noah McCallum flip to Dylan Bonham out at second, then turned a double play to Justin Hawkins over at first to douse the smoldering flame the Knights tried starting. Top of the fourth, Homitz walked, then stole second base. McCollum grounded hard to left field, bringing Homitz home, 3-0.
After another Fleming Island double play killed off any Oakleaf momentum in the bottom of the sixth, McCollum got on base with a double to left field. Peck came up next and bunted toward third base. Knights relief pitcher Alex Guzewich got tangled up in the scoop and ended up not able to make the play. With runners safely on first and third base, Justin Hawkins followed with a hard ground ball to left field scoring both runners. As he slid into second, the ball was misplayed again and Hawkins took off for third. Oakleaf never recovered the ball in time and Justin turned a two-RBI double into a two-RBI in the park home run.
“We talked about this at First Coast, leaving runners on base with our number 3, 4, and 5 up and don’t get anything,”said Bigilin. “That was deflating. I’m proud they got a few in the middle, and got the insurance at the end because on the road, one bad bounce and before you know it, it can be a tie game.”
Adding insult to injury, in the Knights last at bat, with a glimmer of not being shut out at home, Fleming Island turned yet another double play from second to first base to end the Knightmare at Oakleaf, 6-0.