Top teams meet up at Lake Mary

Orlando Sentinel - - WEATHER - By J.C. Car­na­han

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.

vs.

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).

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