LAND O’LAKES — Sean Fluke wasn’t going to get a second chance to close out Sunlake. At least not originally.
The ace surrendered a seventh-inning run to the host Seahawks, but Fivay answered with a run in the top of the eighth. That’s when Fluke crossed paths with coach Matt Hayes.
“He was going to take me out and I said, ‘Let me finish,’ ” Fluke said.
He did in 1-2-3 fashion, and Fivay (5-2) earned a 2-1 victory Tuesday night. The teams entered tied for second in Class 5A, District 8.
Fluke (4-0) struck out eight and threw 98 pitches, which was nothing compared to his counterpart. Sunlake senior lefty David Castillo logged 124, striking out 15 batters.
But Castillo also threw two wild pitches and walked three, all after two outs in the seventh inning. Two walks led to the winning Fivay run, and Castillo said fatigue was not a factor.
“Obviously he was tired. But he was very good,” said Falcon centerfielder T.J. Niles, who worked out of an 0-2 hole to walk with one out in the eighth.
That was followed by a wild-pitch walk to Jarred Mattos, an intentional pass to Fluke loading the bases and a two-out wild pitch that scored Niles.
None of the three run-scoring innings saw a hit reach the outfield. Fluke had an infield single in the fourth, stole second and got replaced by pinch-runner Richard Bohm, who came all the way around on a bad pickoff throw by Castillo.
“I put both of those runs on me,” Castillo said.
He reacted to the unearned run by striking out the next four batters. He gave up just three hits and surpassed his previous season high in Ks by six.
Fluke faced the minimum through five innings — despite allowing three hits. Second baseman Mario Leverette twice turned stellar double plays, and Fluke picked off a runner. When Sunlake’s John Eales and Ryan Talburt singled to start the sixth, Fluke got a foul out, fly out, then struck out Castillo.
Sunlake (4-3) finally scored in the seventh on Zac Howard’s infield dribbler, followed by a dropped ball by the first baseman that allowed Howard to come all the way around.
Talburt had two of Sunlake’s five hits as the Seahawks suffered their third defeat in what appears to be a wide-open district. River Ridge is the leader, but has a loss to bottom-half team Anclote, which Castillo no-hit last week.
“We’ve got 14 games to learn the teams in this district, then it’s one week of crunch time,” Sunlake coach Dick Rohrberg said. “As long as can get a good seed I like our chances.”