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Hot hitting all in his mind's eye

Twelve swings. That's what Ronny Wiemer takes with the leaded bat when he steps into the on-deck circle. Twelve swings. No more, no less.

A base hit. That's what Wiemer imagines he'll get as he watches the pitcher throw to the batter ahead of him. Wiemer swings as the ball crosses the plate, timing the pitcher's speed. A base hit. Maybe a little more, never anything less.

Wiemer said he knows the routine "sounds weird," but you can't argue with the results.

The Ridgewood first baseman is batting .417 (44-for-106) with five home runs and 32 RBI going into today's Class 5A regional quarterfinal at Belleview. He is one of the most consistent bats in the county, hovering around the same average most of the season.

He is quiet off the field. But once on it, he exudes confidence.

"I like rising up in the big games," Wiemer said. "I like the feeling you get when runners are on base and you can make a difference in the outcome."

He has done that many times in a three-year varsity career during which he has tied the school record for runs batted in with 89. But the game that stands out in his mind occurred this season.

It was at the Dunedin Spring Tournament when Wiemer came up with two on and two outs in the sixth inning against Pasco with the score tied at 4. After fouling off two pitches, Wiemer doubled to right, scoring two and giving Ridgewood a 6-4 victory.

That kind of execution speaks volumes. It has to since Wiemer is labeled a team leader, but can't bring himself to be an outspoken one. Oh, he'll shout out the number of outs to his teammates in the field and give a few words of encouragement to teammates who make an error.

He even makes it a point to say "nice hit" during batting practice to whoever is at bat whenever a solid shot is stroked. That may not sound like much, but Ridgewood coach Larry Beets said the accolade from one of the county's best hitters pumps up the rest of the team.

"It's music to a coach's ears," Beets said.

Wiemer has been a feast for a trained baseball eye as well. Beets said he has never seen the 6-foot, 180-pounder dog a sprint or swing less than aggressively at any batting practice pitch.

He always applies the tag on pickoff tries at first base, even when the runner easily beats the throw. And he's relentless running after foul balls, even when it is obvious they are going out of play.

"I've never had a kid who does everything as hard as he does," Beets said. "I've never seen him go through the motions."

Wiemer said that's because this season is so important to him. He said he remembers earlier Ridgewood teams that didn't have good senior leadership, and how he and teammates Mike Rabelo and Jamie Carreiro promised that when their time came it would be different.

At 23-7, the team he has helped shape is also the second-winningest in Ridgewood history. He will not entertain thoughts of losing.

"It would be too disappointing," Wiemer said. "All the time we put in in the summer, putting in the extra work on weekends, hitting and throwing. It seems like all that would be for nothing."

He expects so much more.




WHO: Ridgewood (23-7) vs. Belleview (23-5).

WHEN: 7:30 tonight.

WHERE: Belleview High School.

WHAT TO WATCH: Mike Rabelo goes for Ridgewood. The senior right-hander is 10-0. . . . Belleview is expected to throw ace Brian Winkler. . . . Ridgewood coach Larry Beets said the Rams must be committed to swinging hard against good pitching. "We were tentative," he said of the 2-0 loss to Tarpon Springs in the district title game. . . . Belleview catcher Garrett Robinson was unstoppable in the District 7 title victory over Ocala Vanguard, throwing out three runners trying to steal, starting a rundown between home and third that got another out, and picking off the potential tying run at first in the seventh inning.