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Baseball: Smart defense key to Steinbrenner's success

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Fri. March 23, 2012 | Andy Warrener

WESLEY CHAPEL — In a must-have game for Steinbrenner, the Warriors smashed through four pitchers, hit two home runs, played lockdown defense and held off a late burst Friday to top Wiregrass Ranch 9-4. Warriors starting pitcher and Saint Leo commit Chris Williams went 52/3 innings, struck out four, walked three and allowed two earned runs.

He was savvy on defense. In the first inning, with a runner on third, Williams covered home on a grounder that the Bulls were trying to squeeze a run in on, getting the out at the plate. In the second inning, Williams scooped up another grounder and caught the Wiregrass runner too far off third base to get out of the inning.

To top it off, in the third inning Steinbrenner catcher Jesse Haney caught Harry Olsen trying to steal second.

The Warriors picked off all three lead runners to start the game.

“We work on situations like that in practice; today we were able to execute it,” said Warriors coach John Crumbley. “Last week we didn’t do that, and we went 2-2.”

The Steinbrenner bats woke up in the third inning when sophomore Kevin Merrell hit a ball down the first-base line, just off the glove of first baseman senior Joel Marin. The double scored Stone Ramsey from second.

The Warriors added three runs in the fourth off Gerald Bautista’s double, a fielding error then two deep fly balls ended the inning.

Christian Diaz, the first Warriors batter up in the fifth, hit a homer to deep left-center that cleared the scoreboard. Cole Gordon added a home run in the sixth.

The Bulls put four runs together over the last three innings but it was too late. The Warriors avenged an early-season loss to the Bulls and tied things up at the top of Class 7A, District 9.

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