Offense sputters, pitching can't contain New Port Richey Mitchell
Braden River High used five different pitchers in an attempt to quiet the bats of the New Port Richey Mitchell Mustangs on Thursday.
But nothing seemed to work as the Mustangs (23-6) banged out 16 hits in a Class 7A-Region 3 semifinal game. Mitchell went on to win 13-3 in a game shortened to five innings under the 10-run mercy rule.
The loss brought Braden River’s season to a close with an 18-11 record.
“All the reports we got were that they were pretty good hitters,” said Craig Page, who finished his fifth season as head baseball coach of the Pirates. “You’ve got to give them credit. We made some mistakes here and there, and they capitalized on it.
“We didn’t execute the pitches when we needed to. We just didn’t get the job done.”
The region semifinal between the two teams was originally slated for Tuesday night at Braden River. But rain and lightning washed it away until Thursday.
The game was finally played on one of the many immaculate fields at Bradenton’s IMG Academy on Thursday.
“It’s easy to make that excuse,” Page said. “We weren’t playing on our home field and all that other stuff.
“But these guys are always ready to play, whenever we’re playing. They’re kids and they’re loose. That definitely didn’t factor in today.”
Braden River collected two of their three hits off of Mitchell right-hander Jake Mattos in the first inning to tie the game at 1-1. Freshman catcher Ryan Waldschmidt singled and stole a base, before scoring on an RBI single by senior third baseman James Boldin.
The Pirates’ only other hit was a single to left field by junior center fielder Collin Goda in the fourth inning.
Junior right-hander Calvin Hedgepeth came on in relief of Nelson with one out in the third inning. He was followed by Josh Weber, southpaw Zach Wyrick and Andre Fonseca.
Mitchell center fielder Jordan Garcia, shortstop Jackson Miller and first baseman Zach Henderson collected three hits apiece for the Mustangs.
Mitchell will host Venice High in a region final Tuesday.
It was the last baseball game in a Braden River uniform for seniors Daniel Tart, Carson Wehmeyer, Miclayne Powell, Nelson, Fonseca, Weber, Boldin and Wyrick.
“It’s always tough to say good-bye to the seniors,” Page said. “But we started three sophomores and a freshman tonight. We feel great about the future.
“We’ve gotten better each and every year. They have done everything we have asked them to.”