By Cassandra Swartz:
Santa Fe cruised to an easy victory over Gainesville on Friday night, ending the game via a 10-0 mercy rule in less than five innings.
The Raiders played lights out on offense and defense, not giving the Canes any room to impact the game. Most of the defense on the night came from Raiders starting pitcher, Ryan Brown, who dominated on the mound.
“Anytime he starts, I feel like we have a really good chance to win that game,” said Santa Fe head coach Travis Yeckring. “We hit up and down the order all night too, so I’m proud of how we swung the bat and how we pitched tonight.”
Andrew Pickles led off for the Canes with a single, but it would be one of only two hits that Brown would allow all game. A hit batter put two men on base for Gainesville in the top of the first, but Brown closed it out with back-to-back strikeouts.
Facing Tyler Guarino on the bump, Santa Fe started out strong with shortstop Devante Mitchum leading off by blasting a triple. He was singled home by Greg Falck to put the home team up, right away.
Falck doubled the lead to 2-0 on an RBI-double by centerfielder Devan Mitchum. A 1-2-3 top of the second sent the Raiders back to the plate quickly, and they put two more runs on the board.
Matthew Geelhoed singled and then stole second, so he was in scoring position when Dalton Dampier hit a double to make it 3-0. Dampier was driven home on a single by John Rechsteiner. The tops of the third and fourth were also 1-2-3 innings, leaving the Canes without any opportunities to score.
The Raiders put men on base in the bottom of both innings, but base-running errors kept their lead at four.Gainesville got men on first and second to open the fifth, but Brown got out of trouble by striking out the next three batters.
The bottom of the fifth would prove to be the final action of the game, as Santa Fe widened the gap until the lead was 10 and the game was called. Three straight hits to open the half-inning led to Falck crossing the plate for his second run of the night to make it 5-0.
Third baseman Zane Starling then broke the game open with a bases-loaded triple to stretch the lead to 8-0. With no outs yet in the inning, Guarino was replaced on the mound by Colton Kelly. Kelly started off hot with back-to-back strikeouts until Devante Mitchum drove Starling home on a single to make it 9-0.
Two wild pitches, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases again for the Raiders, and catcher Landon Rogers drew his second walk of the evening to bring Devante Mitchum home for the tenth and final run.
“I was pretty comfortable,” said Devante Mitchum after his impressive three-hit performance. “I just kept my composure.”
He finished 3-4 on the night with an RBI, two singles, a triple and two runs. Brown pitched all five innings and held the Canes to two hits and a shutout. He had eight strikeouts over the course of the game, including five with runners on base.
After Friday’s performance, Brown was confident in the team’s abilities, saying, “We looked great; I feel likewe’re going to go pretty far this year.”
Yeckring was just as pleased withthe game and already looking for areas to polish,saying, “I’m very happy...but we’ve got to get better going forward.”
Santa Fe improved to 2-1, while Gainesville dropped its third in a row to fall to 1-3.
Santa Fe hosts Dunnellon on Tuesday to try and keep the momentum going. Gainesville travels to Vanguard where they will look to stop the skid.