Several recent losses have done nothing to diminish the enthusiasm of Spring Hill Lookouts Post 186 coach Manny Toro.
Despite a four-game losing streak that dropped Post 186 to 4-10, the head of Hernando County's first American Legion baseball team is encouraged with his players' attitudes and performances.
"They're very enthused," Toro said. "They like the competition.
"We lost a couple of tough ones. There were close games, but (opponents) pulled away in the last few innings."
Three losses came after a June 11-16 break in the summer season. Spring Hill lost 5-2 to Tampa Post 111, 9-6 to Hillsborough Post 167 and 6-5 to North Tampa Post 334. The Lookouts, who defeated Post 334 4-1 earlier this season, will try to end their skid at 1 p.m. today when they take on Odessa Post 147 at Land O'Lakes High.
Spring Hill is holding its own playing a schedule filled with Hillsborough County ballclubs. The team is scoring more often and playing consistent defense, the coach said.
Shortstop Chad Good and centerfielder Charlie Plaia have been the defensive standouts of late and Toro said, "The bats are finally coming through. The kids are finally getting adjusted to the pitching."
Post 186 adjusted well enough to take a 5-2 lead against Post 334 Tuesday night at King High in Tampa before losing a heartbreaker in what Toro described as "a torrential downpour" in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Luke Buettner's run-scoring single and a two-run single by Manny Toro Jr. sparked the offense, but then the rains came. Post 334 capitalized on four walks, two wild pitches and a base hit in a four-run comeback.
"I was completely appalled that the umpires didn't call it," Toro said. "Our pitchers just couldn't get the ball over. It was a tough one to lose. The kids were a little disappointed."
In the Post 111 defeat, Danny Allison belted a 370-foot homer to left-center and Toro Jr., hit a run-scoring single that scored Greg Caraynoff.
Losing pitcher Tommy Bolin struggled to find the plate early, the coach said, but regained his control in the late innings.
"He threw better than I expected," Toro said.
Post 186 actually outhit Post 167 9-8 and made it close by scoring five runs in the eighth. Jeff Cornett, Brian Werthmiller, Bobby Roehrig and Buettner keyed that rally with run-scoring singles.
"The bats woke up a little too late," Toro said.
Two Spring Hill players are expected play baseball in college next season _ Allison at Central Florida Community College and Good at Saint Leo College.
"We're fulfilling the goal of getting these kids into college somewhere," Toro said.