continue with Braves
New team, same troubles.
Former Crystal River standout Mike Hampton, in his first year with the Atlanta Braves after two disappointing seasons in Colorado, was rocked by the Houston Astros for 6 runs and 7 hits in 18 at-bats Wednesday. After three exhibition starts, the pitcher has an 8.00 ERA and opponents are batting .400 _ numbers that have to be alarming to the Braves.
Hampton has struggled in two of three spring starts. In a six-hit second inning against the Astros, Houston slugger Craig Biggio cracked a grand slam.
"Numerous things," Hampton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Trying to overthrow, trying to do too much. But it's a good lesson. The other three innings weren't like that. I take some positives and store the negatives away, remember what I felt like during that one inning, when everything was a grind."
Hampton was 7-15 with a 6.15 ERA last season, but is 106-81 for his career.
Metz strikes success
One season after helping lead Crystal River to the Class 3A baseball final four, Jimmy Metz is making a significant contribution at Central Florida Community College.
The right-handed pitcher is 1-1 with 1 save, a 3.38 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 32 innings for the Patriots (15-8). Metz has seven appearances, four in a starting role.
Two other members of the 2002 Crystal River team play for CFCC _ catcher/outfielder Clayton Trenary and first baseman Marcus Galvan. Trenary is hitting .250 with 1 home run and 5 RBIs. Galvan has one hit in 15 at-bats.
Former Citrus standout Cory Presnick, a sophomore at Florida, had the Gators' top time (14:43.50) in the 5,000-meter run during the winter indoor season.
Citrus weightlifter Dan Marinelli continues to set records.
The senior bench pressed a school-best 415 pounds in a dual meet win over Lecanto on Wednesday. He set the old mark last week with a 400-pound performance.
Marinelli's best clean and jerk is 285 pounds. He was all-area in 2002 after placing 12th at state with a 605 total.
NCT hires coach
Bob Strong, a 33-year-old social studies teacher from Oscoda, Mich., is the first coaching hire in the history of Nature Coast Technical High School, which is scheduled to open in August in Hernando County. He will coach boys varsity basketball.
Strong, a seventh-year head coach, turned a struggling Oscoda Area High program into a team that made the state final eight in his second season. His squads were rated academic all-state the past four years and won sportsmanship awards the last two.
"This was an opportunity to be in a growing school district," Strong said. "It's also certainly one of the nice facilities I've seen."
NCT's first head football coach is among the following candidates: Springstead assistant Danny Garofano, Fort Walton Beach assistant Glenn Mayer, Dean Fabritizio, who has worked at Edgewater and Orlando Bishop Moore; and Tommy Keeler, head coach at East Lake in Tarpon Springs.
NCT principal Tizzy Schoelles said Keeler was the runner-up to former Central coach Steve Crognale when she was on a search committee to replace then-Bears coach Barry Gardner. Keeler refused to comment Wednesday.
"We've gone from 55 to 18 and now four," Schoelles said. "We hope to have it done within a few days."
Strong will teach in the social studies/automotive/construction cluster. All NCT sports except football are scheduled to begin play on the varsity level next year, Schoelles said.
"We'll find out what kind of kids we have when they come in," Strong said. "But if we have the 1,700 or so we're supposed to, we should be okay."
NEWS & NOTES
Pine Ridge ace
John Hrobuchak aced the 117-yard 15th at Pine Ridge Country Club on March 8. Witnesses were John Bianco and Al Barnard.
The fifth annual Shamrock Scamper 5K & Kids Fun Run is 8 a.m. Sunday in Inverness. The race begins at Citrus High. The cost is $15 through pre-registration, $18 on race day. The kids event is $2. For information, call 489-1617 or 465-4876, or go online to www.citrusroadrunners.org.
_ KEITH NIEBUHR, BRANT JAMES