Viera's offense shut down by Melbourne in 5-2 playoff loss
In happier times, Viera infielders Connor Leary (left) and Andrew Brait celebrate a big, inning-ending double play during Tuesday night's Class 7A regional semifinal game at Space Coast Stadium.
Viera High's baseball team had its best season ever.
But it all came to an end Tuesday night.
Melbourne High pitchers Drew Eller and J.P. Williams shut down Viera’s powerful lineup and the Bulldogs came away with a 5-2 victory in their Class 7A regional semifinal at Space Coast Stadium.
“I told the guys there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Viera coach Bob Doty said. “We’re all very proud of them as a coaching staff. Of course we’re disappointed and frustrated, getting beat.
“We really had a cub we thought could win this whole thing.”
The Hawks entered Tuesday’s game with a .361 team batting average and scoring 8.5 runs a game. However, Eller and Williams were able to stifle the Viera lineup all night and were particularly effective using offspeed pitches to keep the Hawks off-balance.
“We knew they were both good,” Doty said. “The Eller kid has a great changeup. He got a couple of our lefties out on (the changeup). That’s a tough pitch.
“We knew Williams would come in and throw hard. … They’re battlers. They’re tough.”
Melbourne scored two runs in the top of the first inning to take the lead, but the Hawks answered in the bottom half.
After Christian Robinson doubled to right field and Sebastian Samuels walked, Darren Rodney and Connor Leary delivered back-to-back RBI singles to tie things up at 2-2.
However, Melbourne would get two more runs in the third and one more in the seventh. While the Hawks would threaten several times – they had two runners on with one out in the seventh – but could not break through with the big hit.
The Hawks finished the season 23-5 with three of those losses coming to the Bulldogs.
It was the final game for seniors Brody Legate, Chris McLoughlin, Kenny Payne, Bryson Wallace, Alex Brait, Nick Poehailos, Rodney, Noah Van Alstine, Zach Kaye and Samuels.
“We fought and we battled,” Doty said. “They’ve got a good team. I feel they’ve got a good chance of going to the final four.
“It was our best season ever, and probably the best team I’ve ever had. In 2013, we won 20 games and we got this far, but this club here was blessed with a bunch of seniors and was probably one of the best hitting teams I’ve ever had – not just at Viera, but coaching, period.
“I thought our pitchers did well for not having the big-time arm, like some of these other clubs who have guys throwing 90. We had guys that just battled and kept us going.”