Tampa – Steinbrenner took another district beating Friday night due to a dissipated offense and a game changer at bat in their 3-2 loss to Gaither.
Senior Gideon Dunn made his third start on the mound for the Warriors (11-4) (4-3 in the District) Friday night hoping for a big bounce back win from Tuesdays massacre handed over by Wiregrass Ranch. However, the Steinbrenner cavalry that was supposed to bring some much needed offense never arrived to aid their fatigued Warrior.
Dunn had single-handedly kept Gaither trailing when in the top of the fourth, drove in Senior Alex Hanson on a deep fly ball to center field. Hanson who had reached second on a leadoff double and then had stolen third on a passed ball behind the plate, tagged up and gave the Warriors a little hope for a successful night.
“It was great that I got to do that [RBI] but there was nowhere near enough offense tonight” Dunn said.
But hope would only be a fraction of what the Warriors needed. After struggling to retire batters left and right, Dunn managed to get two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth. But it wouldn’t be enough. After a pitch struck the leadoff Cowboy in the back, Dunn, tired from over 80 pitches on the night, threw a ball right down the middle of the plate giving freshman Cowboy Joes Cadenas the chance to change the game. Cadenas took a bite out of the experienced pitchers fastball and sent it flying over the left field fence as if the ball was a bullet shot out of a gun. Quick and painful.
“I was struggling. It’s hard to throw another pitch when you can’t even throw another strike. The batter was sitting on a fastball and I left it up. Anyone could have hit that ball and he killed it” Dunn said.
The one swing of the bat left Steinbrenner trailing 3-2 as they headed into the top of the seventh 1 ½ innings later. Junior Ryan Fatzinger, Dunn’s replacement battled the count eventually walking. Then came Senior Jake Carroll who struck out but managed to allow Junior Brandon Johnson, Fatzninger’s pinch runner, to advance to second on a passed ball.
And then, the heart of Steinbrenner’s offense came to the plate.
First was Senior Kevin Merrell. Merrell drove the ball to right field moving Johnson to third. Merrell stole second on a close play and gave Steinbrenner a chance to tie the game with men on second and third. Next Junior Chase DeBonis came to the plate, and after battling the pitcher, drove a ball to deep center scoring Johnson, making the game 3-2 but adding another out. But Steinbrenner was not done yet.
Homerun and RBI leader Senior Cole Gordon walked to the plate, picked up some dirt and rubbed it between his hands. He stepped up, missed a pitch or two, and then swung one final time for the night. The ball traveled high into the sky. Only this ball didn’t quite have the distance as Cadenas’s long shot and the game ended with the squeeze of a glove securing Gordon’s high pop up that traveled to the second baseman.
“I would honestly rather suck at hitting and have our team win than for me to get a hit and have us lose” Dunn said.
Steinbrenner will face Freedom at home on Tuesday, 7 PM, a key district game if Steinbrenner is to have any chance at a district championship this year.
Evan Abramson/Senior Staff Writer