A chorus of cheers echoed throughout Charles R. Head Field, Monday night. Parents lined the left field fence screaming and gloating over their son’s victory on Senior Night. Unfortunately, the parents and players celebrating the 6-5 win were the opposing Lake Placid Green Dragons.
Avon Park (16-4) entered their 20th game of the season with a bevy of confidence, while riding a 7-game win streak. The Red Devils hadn’t lost since March 27, and dominated Lake Placid 12-2 in their previous meeting. But that wave of confidence might have blinded the Red Devils from seeing how energized the Green Dragons were for this final showdown.
On a night that was dedicated to honoring 9 seniors, Avon Park quickly found itself in a 2-0 hole. Starting pitcher Drew McGuckin was pulled after walking the first two batters on 11 pitches. Dayvon Terry relieved McGuckin, but could not escape the jam without Lake Placid plating two runs on a RBI-double and an error by Shortstop Cory Leech.
The Red Devils had their chance to even the score in the bottom of the first and third innings with the bases loaded, but couldn’t cash in on their opportunity. It was a common theme throughout the night for the team, as they left 13 men on base.
Avon Park Head Coach Whit Cornell said the loss was very disappointing. “It’s a tough pill to swallow. We all expected to win this game and send these seniors off in style, but you gotta earn every win and we just didn’t do that. We had several chances to break the game wide open and just didn’t execute. Credit Lake Placid for coming in and fighting a lot harder then some guys thought they would.”
Lake Placid would go on to score 3 runs in the top of the third, and add their 6th and final run, in the top of the 6th. Green Dragon starting pitcher J.J. Huego held the Red Devils in check through 5 innings. He struck out 6, and didn’t allow a run until he was pulled in the bottom of the 6th, after walking the first two batters.
Avon Park, in jeopardy of being shutout at home, on Senior Night, rallied to score 5 runs in the home half of the 6th. Dayvon Terry smoked a fastball to the left-center gap for a 3-run double to finally put the Red Devils on the board. Two batters later, Drew McGuckin brought Terry home with a single to left field to cut the lead to 6-4. First Baseman Luis Perez grounded into a force out at first, but scored Trent Lewis from third to make it a one run game.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Red Devils had men on first and second with two outs, but couldn’t bring either man home. The late game rally created incredible drama, and seemed like the game would end in story book fashion, but it wasn’t enough. Lake Placid held on to win 6-5.
Avon Park looks to put this unexpected loss behind them, and take out their frustration on Sebring in their home finale, Thursday night. The Red Devils are 2-0 this season against the Blue Streaks.
First pitch will be 7pm. Hope to see you there.