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LUTZ — The only way Steinbrenner and Wiregrass Ranch were going to get in a full game Friday was if the pitchers worked quickly. And they had the right guys for the job.
Logan Lapace threw his second complete game of the season, both against Wiregrass, as the Warriors won 4-1. The game lasted all of 75 minutes and cleared a deluge’s arrival by a half-hour.
“I pitch to contact and let my defense do the job,” Lapace said after striking out seven and walking none. Lapace normally closes for the Warriors but has picked up three starts along the way. He and counterpart Zach Drury surrendered just three hits apiece.
The first inning was the longest of the night and turned out to be the most important for Lapace.
Wiregrass Ranch (9-4) quickly got on the board when Austin Drury led off with a single, stole second and came home on Marcus Guzman’s double. But Lapace limited the damage as he fielded a bunt attempt and turned it into a critical double play. After that the Bulls managed only a hit batsman in the third inning and Guzman’s single in the sixth.
The Bulls missed on their chance for a key defensive play, dropping a foul ball that would have ended the first inning. Jesse Haney took advantage with a two-run double.
“You’re giving really good hitters a second chance, and most of the time that’s gonna cost you,” said Bulls coach Jeff Swymer.
Steinbrenner’s remaining runs came with the benefit of one hit. In the second inning Nick D’ambrosio reached on an error, stole second and moved to third on Mikey McGuire’s sacrifice bunt. Danny Rodriguez, the No. 9 hitter with a .556 batting average, made it 3-1 with a sac fly.
Another manufactured run made it 4-1 in the fourth. Mijon Cummings led off with a double and came home on a wild pitch and Brennan Garcia’s sac fly.
Warriors coach John Crumbley said the team worked specifically on such situations in practice Wednesday.
“We spent a lot of time on situational hitting, and the guys really liked it,” he said. “It was nice to see the results.”
Garcia came into the game after D’ambrosio aggravated a balky thumb when he scored the third run. The senior went in for X-rays.
Steinbrenner (13-1) stayed undefeated in District 7A-9 while the Bulls are 3-3, having lost earlier in the week to second-place Gaither on a run in the bottom of the seventh.
Drury entered Friday with 56 strikeouts in 27 innings but added only two to his total, pitching five innings. Ryan Girard closed out for the Bulls.
Swymer said he was looking forward to his team’s spring break, which will be spent playing in a tournament down in Fort Lauderdale. The Bulls will play Miami Westwood Christian, St. Alban’s from Washington, D.C., and Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian.
Wiregrass will return to district play April 2 with another crack at Gaither, which still has a chance to catch Steinbrenner for the top seed.