TARPON SPRINGS — Ryan Wall held IMG Academy to two hits over six innings as host East Lake won 9-3 Friday in the championship game of the Lee Byers Invitational.
Sawyer Wirth went 2-for-4, his RBI single part of a six-run sixth inning in which the Eagles (3-0) broke open a 3-2 game. Ian Lisle hit a two-run single to make it 8-2 as IMG used four pitchers in the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Wall had surrendered a homer to No. 9 hitter Alex Mangome. But Wall set down the next three, including heavily scouted Taylor Lane and Luke Bonfield. Lane was 6-for-9 coming in but flew out three times Friday.
“He’s just so mentally tough,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said of Wall. “It makes up for the fact that he, you know, throws 80 miles an hour. The guys love playing behind him.”
And they helped Wall plenty Friday with strong defense, allowing him to subdue the Ascenders with just one strikeout. Third baseman Christian James smashed into the fence making a catch in foul territory in the fifth inning, followed by shortstop Keegan Maronport diving to catch one in shallow left.
Leftfielder Cristian Sieman ended the game with a sliding catch, turning it into a double play. IMG had already scored a run and would have loaded the bases with one out if the ball would have fell in.
The Eagles chased IMG starter Brian Rapp in the fifth inning after back-to-back doubles by Wirth and Maronport made the score 3-1.
Rapp’s pitch count (77) became an issue when East Lake made him throw 26 while manufacturing a fourth-inning run.
Wall, despite not being the team’s true ace last year, clinched the Byers, Pinellas County Athletic Conference and district titles for East Lake.
“Any of seven teams could have won this tournament. This is a huge confidence booster for us,” Genna said.
In the first round, East Lake edged Mitchell 3-2 before topping Bishop McLaughlin 5-2 in Thursday’s semifinal. In the third-place game Friday, Bishop McLaughlin routed Arlington Country Day 10-0. Osceola and Anclote, which gave IMG a 10-7 test and beat Mitchell, added to the list of competitive squads.