- March 1, 2021
Seabreeze ran away with the District 5-5A championship in a 12-2 trouncing of Pine Ridge on Thursday, May 4, breaking its six-year playoff silence and giving the Sandcrabs a slot at the state playoffs.
Seabreeze opened the playoffs on May 9 with a 2-1 regional quarterfinal victory at Wesley Chapel. Evan Miller scattered five hits for the win. Zachary Banks scored both runs for Seabreeze.
The Sandcrabs will travel to Sebring on Friday, May 12, for a regional semifinal.
Head coach Jeff Lemon was emotional following Seabreeze’s win in the district final at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. In 2018, the Sandcrabs went 2-24 in Lemon’s first year as the assistant coach.
“From that point, going from two and 24, it was about getting the community to become re-involved with the program and getting quality human beings to come in,” he said. “Honestly, the grind was fun every year — coming to work every single day. Once our guys saw the community getting involved, they started investing harder in the program. Obviously, we took our lumps along the way, but I guess that’s what makes this even sweeter.”
Seniors Banks, Mason Boice, Dylan Cavanaugh, Ethan Gilbert, Miller and Scott Treur have been consistent leaders throughout the season.
Two weeks before the game, Lemon talked to them about the importance their leadership roles would play in becoming district champions. He relied on them to get the message to the underclassmen and get the younger players invested. They did.
The seniors realized that the stop sign was coming but they understood that there was a way to illegally drive through that stop sign to keep the season going. One of the messages that we go with is, if you’re upset with your current situation, jam your face in the mirror. Our seniors really embodied that message. — Jeff Lemon, Seabreeze baseball coach
“The seniors realized that the stop sign was coming, but they understood that there was a way to illegally drive through that stop sign to keep the season going,” he said. “One of the messages that we go with is, if you’re upset with your current situation, jam your face in the mirror. Our seniors really embodied that message.”
Cavanaugh pitched seven innings, striking out nine and walking one against Pine Ridge. He only gave up two runs on five hits. Cheers of “Let’s go Cavi!” from the dugout motivated him to “put it all on the table.” He said he feels that 18 years of hard work led to the district championship his senior year.
“The shift in the game was that second and third inning, when we started lacing the ball and getting some barrels,” he said. “They started shivering — started making errors in the field. We were just hitting the ball hard and making plays in the field. That’s all you can do to win a game.”
Pine Ridge got the game going in the first inning with a run by senior Ryan Verdi on a double by teammate Nathan Dipio. In the top of the second inning, a bunt by Gilbert, a sacrifice bunt by Boice and a third bunt by Noah Katsikos scored Tommy Hayes with the Sandcrabs’ first run.
In the second inning, Banks said, he knew he had to do something for his team. Sophomore Rustin Hurley was hanging at third after hitting a double to left field and bringing Gilbert home. The pitch was low and inside when Banks drove it to right field for a double and his first RBI of the game.
“I felt like I needed to do a job and score some runs so we could get the energy up and then it kept dogpiling,” he said. “We just kept getting more runs. We brought the energy the whole game. That’s what I like about this team. Everybody — the bench players, the starters, the coaches—everybody brought energy. The plan (for regionals) — keep hitting the ball as a team.”
Banks finished the game with one run and two RBIs. He finished the regular season leading the team with a .415 batting average, 15 stolen bases, 27 hits, 20 runs and three triples. He is also finishing his senior year in the AICE program with a 4.4 GPA.
Pitcher Cavanaugh finished the regular season with 37 strikeouts, 11 RBIs and four doubles. He and Banks were excited to go to the playoffs. Now they are one win from advancing to the regional final.