Fort White baseball splits Preseason Classic
LIVE OAK — The Indians closed out preseason ball in fashion, earning their first taste of victory this season.
After falling 13-0 to Suwannee on Tuesday, Fort White bounced back and had a six-run sixth inning en route to a 9-0 win over Hamilton County Friday night.
The Indians — while the win only counts as a moral victory — at least head into the regular season armed with a little extra confidence.
“We played according to our competition,” coach Rick Julius said. “Our bats are still not there. I told the guys ‘80 percent of high school baseball is won or lost in one big inning.’ We happen to be on the good end of that.”
The Indians’ bats were quiet after Cameron Hilbert’s RBI in the first inning.
Fort White pitcher Wesley Blakley kept the slim lead alive, finishing with four strikeouts before being retired in the fourth inning.
Ryan Ellis substituted in relief and continued strong play on the mound — also striking out four batters.
“It was his first day out the box,” Julius said of Blakley, a converted pitcher. “He had some jitters. We got to get better on some off-speed pitches. I thought Ryan threw really well and thought Jeremy (Barber) did good too. All three did well. Just got to be a little more effective on pitch count.”
Fort White’s solid pitching performance was backed up by the sixth-inning explosion that quickly turned a tight-contest into a drubbing.
Hamilton County pitcher Javy Zamora threw a wild pitcher that sailed to the backstop, allowing two Fort White baserunners to score.
The Indians took a 3-0 lead, and the Trojans began their downward spiral.
Obe Nuberto recorded an RBI on his next at-bat, pushing the lead to 4-0.
Fort White started pulling away when Ellis registered a 2-RBI single.
“It gave us a lot of confidence and deflated them at the same time,” Julius said.
Hamilton County managed to get out of the inning but not before Braden Haddox joined the party, tallying an RBI of his own.
The Trojans came up short in both of their next chances at the plate while Barber entered the game and closed things down on the mound.
Ellis’ sacrifice fly and an errand throw by Hamilton County in the seventh inning scored two more runs for Fort White to seal the win.
Fort White split the Preseason Classic.
The Indians hope to kick off the 2016 campaign with a victory over visiting Lafayette on Tuesday.