After the third inning of Friday's game against Springstead, Nature Coast's Joe Silvestri was nearing his pitch count; his arm started to feel a little weary.
"I told Coach that it was probably my last inning," Silvestri said. "But then we scored all those runs the next inning and I felt rejuvenated, like I could throw one more."
He did, and when Silvestri left the game, his Sharks were up 8-2. Then the Nature Coast relievers came in and as coach Dan Garofano said, "walked the house." The Sharks walked six batters and the Eagles got "timely hits."
The next thing you know, the Sharks were leaving the diamond with their heads down, gift-wrapping a victory to a county and district rival.
"After it was over," Silvestri said, "it just hit us."
Tonight, the Sharks (2-3, 1-1) begin their four-game week against Central (2-3). Garofano isn't panicking over Friday's meltdown.
"Hopefully it was an aberration," he said.
Pitching and the outfield do give Nature Coast reason for slight concern, though. Silvestri and Bryan Daniels have been the Sharks' aces but Garofano is looking for Tom Bosworth or Brandon DeRespiris to shore up the rotation. Blake Dudkovic, hitting .389, is the only outfielder that has provided consistent offense. Monday afternoon, Josh Ortiz was in the batting cage receiving swing instruction.
"Coming off of basketball," Ortiz said, "it's like I have to get my body to learn a whole new skill."
If Ortiz begins swinging well, Garofano said his speed and arm would serve the team well. Three other outfielders, including Alex Angulo, the squad's only senior, are battling for two spots.
Garofano said he'll start making some decisions when "those guys step up and start getting some hits." If they continue to struggle, Garofano said he might move Travis Murray from designated hitter or even call up one of the junior varsity players.
Ultimately, though, Garofano and Silvestri agreed the Sharks aren't in bad shape. Silvestri says Nature Coast should be undefeated in the district.
"Really, we just had two bad innings," he said.