The Villages Charter celebrated senior night in style with an 8-4 win over Belleview. Despite a handful of errors and falling into deficits early, the Buffalo cruised to a relatively easy victory Friday night.
“I feel especially good for our seniors,” said Buffalo head coach Brady Bogarty after the win. “They all contributed really well.”
The first inning was scoreless for both teams, but each left a runner in scoring position stranded. Buffalo starter Caleb Heaxt notched two strikeouts in the inning, while Brendan Ness for the Rattlers tossed one.
The Rattlers struck in the secondfor a one-run lead. Dylan Shealy drew a walk to open, moved to second on an errant pick-off attempt and crossed the plate on a double by Jarrod Sweeting. The Villages answered right back in the home half, drawing two walks to start. A bunt advanced both runners, and a sac grounder from Brenden Ship knocked Anthony Karoly in to tie it.
Justin Swander led off in the top of the third with a single before stealing second. When the throw to try to catch him stealing sailed into the outfield, he rounded for third but tripped after a small collision with a fielder. Citing interference, the umpire awarded him the extra base, where he was then able to tag up and score on a sac fly by Peyton Drake to retake the lead for Belleview.
Again, the Buffalo were able to equalize in the home half, but they didn’t stop there. Cole Bullen hit a leadoff single, advanced on a groundout, stole third and raced home on a ball that snuck past the catcher to knot the game at two apiece.
After consecutive walks to Michael Guilliams and Jared Luplow and a wild pitch that advanced them, Ness was replaced on the mound by Brendan DeMonico. His first pitch wasn’t able to be corralled, and Guilliams crossed the plate to give The Villages its first lead.
Karoly made it a 4-2 game with a single that drove in Luplow. Despite getting a man to third in the top of the fourth, the Rattlers weren’t able to bring him home to cut into their newfound deficit. Through a couple walks and hits, the Buffalo were able to build onto their lead.
Luplow batted-in Bullen with a single, while Karoly added more RBIs by bringing Guilliams and Luplow home on a double to make it 7-2. With four innings under his belt with four strikeouts and only two hits, Heaxt was relieved by Karoly on the mound. He opened his performance by striking out two Rattlers in the fifth.
Belleview made a second pitching change and brought Tyler Jones into the game. Ship reached on anerror, moved to second on a ball that escaped the catcher and scored on a single from Bullen for the eighth Buffalo run.
The top of the sixth was a 1-2-3 half inning, and the Rattlers kept the Buffalo from adding any more runs in the bottom half despite two runners making it into scoring position.With only three outs left to stage a rally, Belleview was able to get part of the way there. An error allowed the leadoff Sweeting to make it to second, and a dropped third strike put Jackson Dennis on firstwhere he then stole second.
Down to the final out, Swander delivered a ball that scored both runners to make it 8-4 butwas tagged out attempting to turn the hit into a double.Karoly was a star for the Buffalo on both sides of the ball. In his three innings of relief, hehad five strikeouts and gave up one hit. Over the plate, he had three RBIs, a single, double, walk and run.
“I felt pretty confident out there, and I just executed,” said Kalory after his stellar showing. “It felt good tostart hitting the ball againand score some runs for my team.”
Ship had one run, and Bullen, Guilliam and Luplow each had a pair of them.“I feel like we did a great job as a team staying together [after]falling down on the lead,”said Bullen.
“We’ve been really good all year keeping that mentality that we want to go out there and keep hitting the ball every at-bat and win every game no matter what it takes.”
The Villages Charter improved to 14-6, while Belleview moved to 11-10, just above .500. “Overall,our at-bats were good,” said Bogarty. “We needed this big win headed into district seeding.”