LECANTO — The Lecanto baseball team officially opened its regular season on Friday night, yet the Panthers appeared very much still in preseason mode.
Hosting nearby rival Dunnellon in a District 6A-6 matchup, Lecanto found itself buried by an avalanche of mistakes in an ugly 13-2 loss.
“It was a pretty tough game defensively, and it can have a snowball effect on you if you don’t have anybody step up and make some plays when it’s going bad like that,” Lecanto head coach David Logue said. “The key is you’ve just got to come back and regroup. Think about it and make sure we make corrections about what we did tonight.”
The Panthers committed seven errors — though Logue said he counted 11, perhaps recalling a few failed rundowns on stolen-base attempts. Either way, the result was eight unearned runs, including the first seven scored by the Tigers (3-0, 1-0 6A-6).
It started in the top of the first inning, when two of the first four batters reached on errors, setting up a two-out single to the right-center field gap by Bryan Vasquez to plate the game’s first run.
Lecanto knotted it up in the bottom half, taking advantage of two Dunnellon fielding gaffs. Chris Dirosa reached on an error by the second baseman, then eventually scored on a grounder to third by Nick Morales that was thrown away.
But the Tigers scored twice in the third, with Jay Fraziars lining a RBI single to center, driving in Yeison Serrata, who had reached on an error. Then with two away, Vasquez blooped a single in shallow right to make it 3-1.
Dunnellon blew the game open over the next two frames, batting around in both the top of the fourth and fifth, scoring four runs apiece.
Every run in the fourth was scored with two outs, the first on a booted grounder to shortstop off the bat of Jase Williams. Serrata and Fraziars tacked on RBI singles, and a throwing error at third accounted for one more score.
In the bottom of that inning, Lecanto cut the deficit to 7-2 on a double by Dustin Fisher over the head of the right fielder to the gap in right-center.
Yet the Tigers came right back with a RBI two-bagger for Dylan Spinelli, followed immediately by a triple from Williams and a Serrata sacrifice fly to center. A high throw on what would have been an inning-ending grounder forced the first baseman to jump off the bag, and Dunnellon received one more gift to push its advantage to 11-2.
Two more runs were tacked on in the top of the seventh, one on a single by pinch hitter Hunter Gomes and another when Alison Serrata scored from second while Gomes was in a rundown.
“There’s a lesson in every game, whether you win or lose,” Logue said. “Obviously there weren’t a lot of positives to take away from it, and it’s tough when that happens to you as a club.
“But you’ve got to really rebound. You’ve got to take a look in the mirror and see ‘Hey, am I really doing what I need to be doing out here? Am I going and preparing the way that I need to prepare mentally every game?’ And that’s what this kind of game will do to you, especially first game of the season.
“We’ve been practicing hard. It was the first competition. There may have been some jitters. But not enough jitters; it was basically just like everybody shut down at one point in time, where instead of somebody stepping up and making a play for our pitchers on the mound we just couldn’t get it done, for lack of mental toughness I would say.”