- April 4, 2017
After losing his no-hitter with two outs in the seventh inning, Seabreeze pitcher Evan Miller walked behind the mound, took a moment to himself, and then completed the shutout.
“He went right back to what he was doing all night,” Seabreeze baseball coach Jeff Lemon said. “After the game, he kept his head up. Everybody told him, good job. He was in good spirits.”
The Sandcrabs scored three runs in the top of the seventh to give Miller more support than he would need, and Seabreeze defeated Matanzas 4-0 in the ’Crabs’ final regular-season game April 27 at the Pirates’ field.
Miller, a junior, hasn’t looked like a pitcher who never threw a varsity pitch before this season. The game against Matanzas was his second complete-game, one-hitter of the season.
“He had everything working well,” Lemon said. “His tempo was great. He went out and executed his plan. He trusted the calls from our pitching coach, and he and Dylan Cavanaugh, the catcher, worked really well together.”
Miller pitches from a three-quarter arm slot and throws a two-seam fastball, slider and changeup.
“The ball was going in two directions on us,” Matanzas coach Jim Perry said. “His fastball was from three-quarters with movement. He dropped down even further on his breaking ball, and it went the other direction.”
Brady Novack had the only hit for the Pirates with a grounder through the infield between third and shortstop.
Matanzas pitchers George Johnson and Ben Apfelbach kept the Pirates in the game, allowing one run through six innings before Seabreeze added three runs in the top of the seventh off Apfelbach on two walks, a passed ball, a double by Zach Banks and a wild pitch.
Seabreeze defeated Atlantic 12-3 on May 2 in a first-round game in the District 9-4A tournament. The Sandcrabs, who have won four in a row to improve to 9-17, were scheduled to meet No. 1 seed Orlando Bishop Moore on May 3.
“We started the season with only two guys who had a substantial amount of playing time on varsity,” Lemon said. “As the season has gone on, guys have stepped into their roles. It’s been fun to see them grow up right in front of our eyes.”
Seabreeze has three dependable starters — Ethan Gilbert, Miller and Cavanaugh with Mason Boice taking over the closer’s role. All four are juniors.
At the plate, the Sandcrabs rely on small ball — playing hit-and-run, stealing bases, keeping the ball in play.
“We’re trying to put pressure on the defense as much as possible,” Lemon said.
‘THE AIR CAME OUT OF THE BALLOONS’
Matanzas is hosting the District 9-5A tournament at St. Johns River State College in Palatka. The fourth-seeded Pirates (10-11) defeated fifth-seeded Mainland 13-3 in five innings on May 2 and were scheduled to play top seed Belleview in the semifinals May 3. The top four seeds (Belleview, New Smyrna Beach, Ocala Vanguard and Matanzas) are all ranked between 45th and 59th among Class 5A teams.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s anybody’s tournament to win,” Perry said. “I guess the only advantage is of all the bus rides, we have the shortest one at 45 minutes.”
“Against Nease, we faced a lefty who threw a hard slider and a hard righty. The type of pitching we saw vs. Nease compared to the type of pitching with saw vs. Seabreeze was 180 degrees apart. It was complete bat disruption.”
JIM PERRY, Matanzas baseball coach
Because of six early-season postponements due to rain, the Pirates have played nine games during the past three weeks with three games in three days each week.
The grind finally got to the team in the third week. On April 26, Matanzas lost 2-1 at Nease in 13 innings. On April 27, the Pirates fell to Miller and Seabreeze, and on April 28, they lost a home game to St. Augustine, 12-2.
“The air came out of the balloons,” Perry said. “The game at Nease ended at 10:35 and we got off the bus at 11:15. Then they had to go to school the next day and play Seabreeze that night. We were supposed to play Seabreeze and St. Augustine a month ago. We had six rainouts, and we were only able to reschedule four. There just weren’t enough days.”
Against Nease, Novack, Jacob Cope and Josh Cope combined to allow two runs on five hits in 13 innings. Jacob Cope pitched eight shutout innings, allowing four hits and no walks and striking out six. Matanzas managed just four hits against three Nease pitchers.
“Against Nease, we faced a lefty who threw a hard slider and a hard righty," Perry said. "The type of pitching we saw vs. Nease compared to the type of pitching with saw vs. Seabreeze was 180 degrees apart. It was complete bat disruption.”
To advance to the district championship on May 5, the Pirates would have to play three games in four days. That’s a schedule they’ve become accustomed to.