EAST LAKE -
East Lake took full advantage of an erratic Tarpon Springs defense and turned a close contest into a mercy-rule-shortened blowout Thursday night, winning 12-2.
The game was called with two outs in the bottom of the sixth when Ian Lisle's sacrifice fly to center scored Tyler Neuhaus.
East Lake (17-3) combined timely and situational hitting (11 hits, three sacrifices) with patience at the plate (three walks, two hit by pitches) and a little luck (five Spongers errors) to earn a win for the first time in the past four meetings with its rival. The teams played three game last year, with Tarpon Springs winning each by a combined score of 25-5.
“That's a big win,” said Eagles coach Dan Genna. “It's a crosstown rival and it's always a good game no matter what the record is. We always battle with them.”
Highlighting East Lake's performance was starting pitcher Ryan Wall improving to 7-0 on the season and leadoff hitter Troy Strominger turning in a 3-for-4 night with an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base.
Tarpon Springs, led by Caleb Koulianos on the mound and at the plate, struck first Thursday and was up 2-0 early. The senior pitcher sent a Wall offering over the left-center fence for a two-run shot. Spongers catcher Kyle Johnson got the inning going with a leadoff double.
Despite putting a runner in scoring position during three of the next four innings, those would be the only runs Tarpon Springs would plate.
“The first inning was clean and in the second it was a good 0-2 pitch and [Johnson] just stuck his bat out and got a double,” said Wall, East Lake's undefeated sophomore. “Then I left that one pitch up, which was a home run, of course. The rest of the way I kept it down and didn't leave anything else up.”
“He made one bad pitch to Koulianos, but he's a good hitter and that's going to happen,” Genna said while speaking of Wall's continued consistency this season. “It didn't rattle him, though. After that he got three up, three down.”
Wall ceded control of the game to Brad Deppermann to start the fifth. The senior closer scattered three hits in his two innings of shutout ball.
“That was our formula,” Genna said. “We wanted to go four or five with Ryan and then two, maybe three with Deppermann on the back end.”
East Lake tied the game with a run in the second and another in the third. A four-run fourth broke the game open as the Eagles sent nine men to the plate.
While Koulianos was not at his sharpest Thursday night, he received little support in the field. All 12 East Lake runs were charged to the senior, but only four were earned.
Even more telling than the home-half of the fourth, the Eagles' game-ending sixth inning featured six runs – all unearned.
Joining Strominger in the multi-hit club for the night were shortstop Keegan Maronpot (2-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 runs) and Neuhaus (2-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 runs). Catcher Grant Hodges and pinch hitter Andrew Prozzillo recorded the Eagles' two extra-base hits, each with a double.
Spongers first baseman Eric Kehoe went 2-for-3 with a fourth-inning double. That two-bagger could have given Tarpon Springs a 3-2 lead at the time, but Koulianos was thrown out trying to steal second earlier in Kehoe's at bat.
Both teams are scheduled to play their Senior Nights tomorrow at 7:00. East Lake takes on Dixie Hollins and Tarpon Springs plays Class 6A District 10 foe Sunlake.
TS - 020 000 x --- 2-7-5
EL - 011 406 x --- 12-11-0
WP – Ryan Wall (7-0)
LP – Caleb Koulianos