LARGO — It has become a theme for Dixie Hollins this season: open up a sizable advantage, watch it disappear by game's end.
Coach Jeff Schellhause hoped his team's fortunes would reverse in the Rebels opening-round game of the Osceola Spring Invitational against Haymarket (Va.) Battlefield.
Instead, the Rebels, unable to hold a 5-0 lead Monday in a 9-5 defeat, were dealt another heartbreaking loss.
On March 22, the Rebels were ahead early 2-0 against Palm Harbor University before losing 3-2.
The next day, the Rebels battled Osceola to a 2-2 draw until the Warriors won in eight innings.
And Friday, Dixie Hollins fell to 1-3 in district play when Braden River scored a run in the final inning to drop the Rebels 1-0.
"We just can't seem to finish games," Schellhause said.
Monday, Dixie Hollins (4-9) knocked Battlefield starting pitcher Chris Wendle out in the first inning behind a steady stream of clutch hits. Matt Harris drove a Wendle offering to the wall in rightfield for a double that scored two runs. Danny Keller followed with an RBI groundout that made it 3-0, and Ray Lanners' run-scoring single to right spelled the end of the afternoon for Wendle.
Dixie Hollins increased its lead to 5-0 when Harris singled to center, scoring Nathan Chlysta, who went 2-for-3 with a double, but then Rebels starting pitcher Jody Odom ran into trouble in the fourth after cruising through three innings.
A one-out groundout with the bases loaded cut Dixie Hollins' lead to 5-1, and Bobby Seagears' opposite field, three-run home run to right brought the Bobcats within a run.
"The thing about today was any mistake pitch could be a home run, and that's pretty tough," Schellhause said, commenting on a steady breeze blowing out to rightfield.
Battlefield (4-2) tied the game in the sixth on John Austin Shepard's RBI double to the gap in left-center and took the lead for good when Derek Evans singled home Shepard, chasing Odom. The Bobcats scored three more times in the sixth.
In the nightcap, Tates Creek of Lexington, Ky., scored eight runs in the sixth inning to pull away from Paintsville, Ky., 10-5 in a battle of visiting teams from the Bluegrass State.