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Gators senior plays it tough on mound

LAND O'LAKES — Nausea becomes Matt Fuglesang.

Gastronomically reeling from that steak and cheese sub he consumed Monday, the rangy Land O'Lakes senior managed to keep his food — and breaking stuff — down Tuesday night.

Fuglesang struck out 10 River Ridge batters and homered for the second time in as many games, leading the Gators (8-1, 6-0) to a five-inning, 10-0 romp of the Royal Knights (5-6, 3-3) in a pivotal Class 5A, District 7 contest.

On a clear evening atypical of the recent local weather pattern, the 6-foot-2 Gators starter also was the finisher, ending things with a walkoff single to left — his third hit of the night — to cap a four-run fifth inning.

The way his stomach felt, the end couldn't have arrived too soon.

"My pitching wasn't really on," Fuglesang said moments after his five-inning, two-hit, three-walk effort. "I felt really sick; I think I had the flu. I was about to throw up the whole time."

Missing a few miles per hour from his fastball, Fuglesang (3-1) relied heavily on a breaking pitch the Royal Knights consistently chased or froze on. Fuglesang fanned six consecutive batters at one point and didn't allow a hit until Steve Femino's double with two out in the third.

"He's sneaky because his delivery is so deliberate," said Gators coach Calvin Baisley, whose club clinches the top seed in the district tournament with a win Friday at Ridgewood. "The ball sneaks up there. He's sneaky fast, and it even makes it sneakier when he's throwing his curveball for a strike."

Offensively, Fuglesang continued to thrive off a recent tweak in his batting stance. In his past two games, including Saturday's 10-9 win at Wesley Chapel, he's 6-for-7 with a double, two homers and seven RBIs.

Tuesday, he was complemented by leadoff hitter J.J. Downum, who doubled twice and scored three runs.

"Matt's feast or famine," Baisley said. "He started out good, then he went into a little bit of a slump. He had a big game Saturday, a big game today. That's the way he is. You never know what you're going to get."

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Gators senior plays it tough on mound 03/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 11:07pm]
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