Defense, late-inning scoring burst carry Hawks past Sharks


Viera second baseman Edian Espinal (left) tags out a would-be Sebastian River base stealer during Wednesday night's Class 7A, District 6 game at the USSSA Space Coast Complex. The Hawks won the game, 8-1.


The Viera Hawks made it look easy in the end.

But Wednesday night’s 8-1 victory over Sebastian River at the USSSA Space Coast Complex in a Class 7A, District 6 baseball game certainly had its tense moments.

Viera scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth, but not before having to get out of a jam just moments earlier that could have made the game a lot tighter.

“We blew it open late, but it was too close for comfort there with those guys,” Viera coach Bob Doty said. “They’ve got a bunch of young kids over there. Their coaches are doing a great job. Their pitcher did a good job on us and they played great defense, too.”

That’s not to say the Hawks (8-3) didn’t come up big when they needed to, either.

Eric Allen threw six innings, giving up five hits, one run and struck out six for Viera. Tyler Madl threw a scoreless seventh.

Offensively, Joe Veltri had a hit and three RBIs and executed a perfect safety squeeze in the bottom of the sixth to earn the team’s Player of the Game honors. Alan Espinal was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Andrew “Bammer” Brait also had two hits and an RBI. Edian Espinal also had a hit and drove in two.

Declan McDermott had a pair of doubles.

The game’s key play came in the top of the sixth inning.

With Viera leading 3-0, the Sharks had runners on first and second with no outs and a 3-1 count on the batter. Allen, however, got the ground ball to short he was looking for and Brait, Edian Espinal and first baseman Brady Janssen pulled off the double play.

“There’s Bammer again,” Doty said. “And you don’t see that (play) in the paper. That was a tough play. He had to come get it.”

Sebastian River would get a run to make it a 3-1 game, but the Hawks avoided what could have been a big inning for the Sharks thanks to some clutch pitching and defense.

“Eric was mostly dominant. He always does a great job,” Viera catcher Alan Espinal said. “He stays in the zone, controls the game. It was just amazing.”

After a week of hitting the ball hard – but usually right at someone – the Hawks finally got rewarded in the bottom of the sixth as they batted around and put the game out of reach.

Viera finished with 11 hits.

“The boys have been absolutely squaring the ball up,” Alan Espinal said. “We just haven’t been that lucky to get the ball in the gap, get the ball down the line. We’ve just been hitting balls directly at people.

“It always feels good when your team executes the way you need to. Guys are going to get better. It’s going to be a good year.”