Matt Lemming ducked, but the pitch from Land O'Lakes' Matt McCleary konked off the Ridgewood outfielder's helmet. A free pass for Lemming. Land O'Lakes got the headache.
Lemming promptly stole second, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single.
The little adventure was mostly lost in the glow of Wednesday night's 7-2 victory over a heated cross-county rival and the usual standout performance by pitcher Mike Rabelo. But Lemming has put together many such moments this season, contributing as quietly as his demeanor.
"He's been exciting," Ridgewood coach Larry Beets said, "and a lot of fun to be around."
The senior is batting .381 (24-for-63), third-highest on the team, and has set a Ridgewood season record for stolen bases with 23.
He's also versatile enough with the glove to take a turn in the infield on occasion and shine. All this from an athlete who is a committed soccer player and never took baseball that seriously _ until this year.
"The biggest difference is that he has come to the ballpark every day to improve," Beets said.
"It's my senior year," said Lemming, who has only been thrown out once. "I wanted to go to states and do my best and stick out with the rest of the team."
And it didn't take a whole lot more time, just a better commitment during practice. The payoff? Lemming, who will attend Saint Leo College, recently hit his first home run for a notable quadruplehas scored a soccer goal, and kicked a field goal and scored a touchdown for the football team.
But with Ridgewood hosting Tarpon Springs tonight for the 5A-District 8 title, the focus is on baseball. "It feels good to do my part and help the team out," Lemming said. "We might get to state this year, and I want to do everything I can to help us get there."