LAND O’LAKES — Fivay pitcher Sean Fluke’s game plan Tuesday night against Class 5A, District 8 rival Land O’Lakes was pretty straightforward.
He wanted to work ahead in counts and keep opposing batters off balance with a steady dose of fastballs and off-speed pitches.
When it came time to put his goal into action, Fluke perfected it. He gave up three runs — two earned — with 13 strikeouts in a 6-3 complete-game win over the Gators (6-4, 5-2).
“Setting up kids with the junk and the off-speed really helped with the strikeouts,” said Fluke, who improved to 5-0. “Getting ahead, throwing balls in the dirt to get them chasing and that stuff also really helped a lot.”
What may have aided the senior more than anything, though, was the Falcons’ offense.
Before Fluke stepped on the mound, Fivay (7-3, 6-2) scored four runs off Land O’Lakes starter Stadler Adwell in the first inning.
After TJ Niles walked on five pitches and Jarred Mattos doubled, Fluke came through at the plate with a two-RBI single. Three batters later, Christian Brown singled home Fluke from third and Charlie Simmens, who was hit by a pitch, scored on an error.
From there, it seemed as if Fluke was on cruise control with a shutout through three and six strikeouts.
But in the fourth, Land O’Lakes catcher Cameron Hilgenberg hit a two-run home run to deep centerfield to cut the deficit to two.
Though he was frustrated with himself, Fluke didn’t let it affect him for long as he struck out three in a row to retire the side.
“Right when he struck that first guy out, I thought there’s no question he was going to close this game out,” Fivay coach Matt Hayes said. “That was his motivator that he was going to stay in there.”
That’s exactly what he did.
Fluke drove in two more runs with a triple in the sixth and allowed only one run on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Sheffield in the seventh to give Fivay its first victory against the Gators in the program’s four-year history.
“This is a big win for us,” Fluke said. “We just came after it and we got it.”