LUTZ- It was an uphill seesaw battle for Steinbrenner Thursday night as the Warriors claimed a 5-4 walk-off, two run single victory against Strawberry Crest.
The Strawberry Crest Chargers (10-6) dominated in all aspects of the game for four solid innings putting immense amounts of pressure on the Warriors (10-2). By the third inning senior Gideon Dunn, making only his second appearance to the mound due to last years injury, was forced to relieve junior Brandon Johnson of his pitching problems while trailing 2-0.
From there, Dunn kept the Chargers quiet for a majority of the game giving up runs only once more in the top of the sixth, when Strawberry Crest managed to add two more runs to a previously tied game. Trailing 4-2, the Warriors began their final retaliation on the night cutting the lead in half thanks to a RBI single by Vance Gutierrez.
“I had my slider on my side tonight. I was able to control it and throw it at any part of the count. Will (Darnell) did a great job and my defense backed me up” Dunn said.
And once more, Dunn silenced the Chargers showing the crowd his dominating pitching skills featuring his unique slider, therefore making room for the Warriors to head into the bottom of the seventh trailing by one.
“It shows the character of our team. It shows our team bond and our attitude that we aren’t gonna just lay down and let opposing teams do whatever they want” Dunn said.
Senior Kevin Merrell led off the inning for the Warriors and waited anxiously for his time to start a rally. The second pitch came in fast down the middle; Merrell swung his bat and reached first safely on a slow grounder to third. Then came the home-run machine, Cole Gordon. The first pitch came in, and Merrell showed off his speed stealing second putting the tying run in scoring position. And from there, it was all downhill for the Chargers. They intentionally walked the power hitter, bringing up Mijon Cummings, a player not too long ago was having trouble finding a hit.
Cummings walked up to the plate to his walk up song, the crowd cheering for a hit, and on the second pitch, Steinbrenner’s late game magic spurred alive. It was a hard grounder in between the gap of first and second. Merrell had no trouble scoring tying the game but pinch runner Jake Carroll decided to go for the win, hurdling towards home instead of waiting for another opportunity. The right fielder picked up the ball, having no time to position himself, cannoned the ball towards home allowing Carroll to score due to an overthrow above the catcher.
“It felt great hitting the ball at this moment. I was trying to stay calm and focused on the now,” Cummings said.
Cummings now on a hot streak, hit his first walk off and the Warriors won their second game of the week going into tonight’s district game against Sickles with a positive attitude.
“We got the win and now all I want is some more, and we have to use this energy against Sickles” Cummings said.
Evan Abramson/Senior Staff Writer