TAMPA — The sight of John Crumbley, Hillsborough County's winningest baseball coach, at Jesuit in an unfamiliar uniform leaning against the visitors' dugout Tuesday night proved to be as bizarre as expected.
Steinbrenner's dark blue and gold will take a while to get used to.
"It's a little different seeing him in those colors," Jesuit coach Richie Warren said.
Crumbley, who won 575 games and three state titles in 22 years at Jesuit, emerged from retirement this year to lead the first-year program. And Tuesday was his first trip back to Jesuit — for an important district game, nonetheless.
Little had changed — for now — as the Tigers dominated, claiming a 12-2 win that ended by mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth.
Even though it was just the third game of the season, a Tiger win was just as important after Jesuit lost to rival Tampa Catholic on Saturday.
"We needed a good win, especially after that," said second baseman Nick Iacovella, who drove in three runs. "We had to let it go and look at what's ahead."
Jesuit (2-1) scored 11 runs in the fourth and fifth innings, batting around in both innings and taking advantage of three Steinbrenner errors.
The Tigers broke the game open with a four-run fourth inning, scoring all the runs with two outs, including two on Iacovella's two-run single that came after a fielding error that could have ended the inning.
Rightfielder Chris Pagliarulo, catcher Nolan Schultz and centerfielder Alex Bacon each drove in two runs for the Tigers. Bacon ended the game in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run single to leftfield that increased the lead to 10.
Steinbrenner (2-1) took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth, putting together RBI doubles by Gerald Bautista and Jason Wilton, but couldn't muster anything else against Jesuit left-hander Daniel Gibson, who struck out five.
"We have high expectations all the time," Crumbley said. "We put together a really good situation for 3½ innings and then we let our inexperience show.
"It's beautiful to be back in uniform, it's beautiful to be able to teach the game of baseball," Crumbley said. "I missed it more than I thought I would. We just have to keep working."