ORANGE PARK – As Friday’s afternoon monsoon-like rains completely soaked northeast Florida, the preseason work that Ridgeview High Panthers baseball John Sgromolo put into his field of dreams …
ORANGE PARK – As Friday’s afternoon monsoon-like rains completely soaked northeast Florida, the preseason work that Ridgeview High Panthers baseball John Sgromolo put into his field of dreams paid off.
Needing only an extra 30 minutes to prep the field once the rains let up, the visiting Golden Eagles from Fleming Island would step up to the plate and play ball.
The Panthers needed only their second at bat to get on the board first and have Fleming Island needing to dig out of a shallow 1-0 hole.
The Golden Eagles responded at their next at bat to pile on four runs in the inning, dousing the smoldering fire that the Panthers finally go to light. One hot inning is all it took.
“That’s all it takes” said Fleming Island coach Grant Biglin. “We like to get going earlier, but it seems like whenever somebody puts pressure on us, we say okay- we have to get the jets moving and whatever it takes we have to get them to go to get fired up. That’s what we preach. If we can have that one big inning, getting four runs, I like it. Three-four, maybe five and we’re going to win the game.”
The rest of the game the Panthers could not get anything better than two runners on and never close the deal. Fleming Island used a well-orchestrated defense as well as a superb showing from a Freshman reliever to close the game. The 4-1 loss is the second in a row for the Panthers coming off a Wednesday evening top of the 7th 3-1 loss to Bartram Trail.
At the Panther second at bat, Ryan Dickey would get pulled around in the bottom of the second when Chase McFarland singled to right field putting Ridgeview up 1-0.
As the inning closed, the Panthers had a glowing fire that finally lit after all the rain.
Fleming Island’s first at bat got a quick one up, one out for the Panthers.
“It was a tough game to get hyped up for because the rains come in, I have every player texting me, are we playing, are we playing?” said Bigilin. “It’s tough to stay fired up for that long.”
The Fleming Island barrage got started with Ridgeview’s Sebastian Marrero miscue on first base that allowed Noah McCollum to stay on first and pour a little gas on the Golden Eagle fire. Adam Peck followed with a hard grounder to center field and in a blink, Fleming Island had a runner in scoring position to tie the game. Zack Mercer singled to third base on the ground, the ball hit the base and popped off to the side scoring McCollum; tied game. Next batter, Scott Kondroik nailed a line drive to right field scoring Peck, 2-1. Zack Mercer came home after Panther’s catcher Anthony Roman errored, 3-1. Justin Hawkins would finish out the scoring duties belting a double to left field that scored Kondroik.
“Fundamentals are huge,” said Bigilin. “Pitching and defense; that’s what we thrive on. We have a deep pitching staff and 12 seniors on the team and couple only pitch.”
Evan Wickeri started as pitcher for Ridgeview and lasted through five innings.