Top teams meet up at Lake Mary
Bragging rights are all that’s at stake when the top baseball teams in the area clash tonight in Seminole County.
Hagerty (17-3), ranked No. 1 in the Sentinel Super Six, visits No. 2 Lake Mary (16-2) at 7 p.m. for the third meeting this season between the non-district opponents.
The Huskies won 6-1 in the preseason, then rallied from three runs down to win 7-6 on Feb. 22. But the Seminole Athletic Conference programs have appeared to drift in opposite directions ever since.
Lake Mary enters the game having won 14 in a row while Hagerty, which has lost two of its past five, steps between the lines for just the fifth time in 25 days since losing 4-2 to Montverde Academy on March 23.
“We haven’t played a lot of games since spring break, so it’s good for us to get this game in against a quality opponent,” Hagerty coach Matt Cleveland said. “It’s a fun opportunity to play a team that’s on fire and hasn’t lost in a while.”
The Huskies enter the game batting .311 as a team with 35 extra-base hits.
The intriguing matchup is magnified by the familiarity between players and coaches. Cleveland and Lake Mary’s Jeff Perez, in his third season with the Rams, each coach Florida Travel Baseball teams in the offseason.
Hagerty outfielder and Riley Greene, a University of Florida commit, will play for Perez again this summer.
“That’s what is fun about baseball these days,” Perez said. “Although we’re going to compete hard [Tuesday], at the end of the game I’m going to give Riley a hug and tell him I care about him, and that I’m always rooting for him.”
Lake Mary is piecing together its best season since winning 21 games and a district title in 2005 under longtime coach Allen Tuttle.
While today’s likely starter Tony Rossi (5-1, 0.74 ERA) deserves his share of credit for what he’s done from the mound, the Rams as a whole have been sparked by senior leadership and the leadoff efforts of Austin Mitchell.
Mitchel is hitting a blistering .569 (29-for-51) at the plate with 15 RBI and 17 runs scored this season.
“When you’re trying to build a program and just trying to get through a season, you want to be involved in big games like this and have some excitement around the school about the baseball program,” Perez said. “It’s been a long time for that here.”Super Six Rankings
Huskies swept series vs. Evans last week.
Swept district series vs. DeLand and won 6-0 vs. Lake Howell.
Plays at Lake Highland Prep today and at West Orange on Wednesday.
Swept district series Orlando University.
Split pair of one-run games against St. Cloud.
Won big over Harmony and Davenport Ridge Community.
Gateway (12-4), Apopka (15-5), Lake Howell (11-7), The First Academy (14-7), New Smyrna Beach (16-5), Tavares (12-6).