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INVERNESS — Citrus didn’t need 10 innings to defeat Lecanto this time around. The Hurricanes exploded for eight runs off nine hits (five doubles) in the first inning en route to a 15-0 blowout in five innings at Citrus High School on Tuesday.
The ’Canes (7-5 overall, 4-1 in District 6A-6) picked up two more runs in the third and returned for five more in a four-hit fourth inning. They tallied 14 hits, seven doubles and five walks in their four-inning offensive onslaught.
Not that junior pitcher Chad Dawson needed such generous run support — he fanned four and yielded three hits in five scoreless innings while his defense turned a pair of 4-6-3 double plays behind him.
“The defense was great backing me up tonight,” Dawson said. “I felt relaxed and smooth and everything was working out. (Citrus head) Coach (Brady) Bogart always says to work downhill and hit your spots, and tonight that worked out great for me.”
Junior catcher Cody Bogart paced his ’Canes at the plate with a pair of doubles and three RBIs while going 3 for 4. Senior third baseman Tyler Beagan (three RBIs, two runs) and junior first baseman Ben Wright (two RBIs, two runs) each went 2 for 3 for Citrus, and ’Canes freshman center fielder Austin Bogart (two runs) totaled two hits and three RBIs.
Citrus — 9-8 winners over the Panthers in ten innings on March 8 — sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning with a flurry of deep line drives.
“We did what we preach finally,” coach Bogart said. “We drove the ball in the gaps, which was great for our hitters and great to get some runs for Chad (Dawson), who we haven’t scored much for. He’s been throwing all three of his pitches great. He needed a quick game to get his arm rested.
“(Lecanto senior pitcher Joey) Spell’s been throwing great for them, so it was good to get a jump on someone who’s been throwing well.”
Senior Jacob Tourbin, who had his club’s only extra-base hit of the game, took the mound in relief of Spell with one out in the first with the ’Canes up 7-0. Sophomore Aston Honeggar pitched the fourth inning for his Panthers (4-8 overall,
2-4 in district).
“As a pitcher, the only reason you give up line drives all over the field like that is if you’re missing your spots and getting behind in counts,” Lecanto head coach Dave Logue said. “Take nothing away from Citrus, they came out swinging. Their guys did a good job and we just didn’t come ready to play, bottom line. We knew the stakes — we needed a win here. It definitely wasn’t what I expected. We’ve competed in all our other district games this year.
“Even though our defense may not have made an an error, somebody needed to step up and make a play and stop the momentum,” Logue added.
The win sets Citrus up for what looks to be a decisive district contest Friday at Springstead, which joins the ’Canes as the only other one-loss 6A-6 team. The Eagles defeated Citrus 9-8 in extra innings on March 5.
“We’ll enjoy this and have fun and at 3 p.m. tomorrow, we’re going to get after it,” Brady Bogart said. “We’ll have to probably be ready for (Springstead senior ace pitcher Brandon) Brosher, and we’re going to have to compete every at-bat and try to win a 3-2 ballgame.”
Lecanto plays at Forest at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.