The Viera Hawks found themselves in another tough matchup Tuesday night at the USSSA Space Coast Complex.
And while they’ve been able to pull out a number of close games this season, this was not their night.
The Rockledge High baseball team used some strong defensive play, a couple of excellent pitching performances and timely hitting to come away with a 3-2 victory in a matchup of two of Brevard County’s top programs.
“Great game,” Viera High coach Bob Doty said. “It was another playoff-type game for us, and that’s what we want.
“We play really well here at home and we played well tonight. They played very well defensively and they got it on the mound. We did, too.”
The turning points of the game came in the bottom of the third and the top of the fourth.
Rockledge had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Hawks would eventually come back to tie things up.
Viera put two runners on to start the bottom of the second, but on a sacrifice bunt attempt to move the runners over, Rockledge made a nice defensive play to get the runner at third. The Hawks would eventually load the bases and Jake Vermeire scored on a wild pitch to make it a 2-1 game, but the remaining two runners were stranded.
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the third, Edian Espinal walked, stole second and went to third when Alex Sosa beat out an infield grounder for a hit. Cole Teply then hit into a double play, but Espinal scored to tie things up.
The Hawks were able to get the go-ahead run on second with two outs, but missed an opportunity to take third on a pitch in the dirt and then eventually got caught in a rundown between third and home and the runner was tagged out at the plate.
Rockledge loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth. Teply got the ground ball he was looking for, but the fielder couldn’t come up with it cleanly and the Raiders scored what would prove to be the game-winning run.
The Hawks would have several other chances to score, including the fifth inning when Viera put two on and Liam Samuels drove the ball to deep left-center field only to see it hauled in for the final out of the inning.
“We hit the snot out of the ball a couple of times,” Doty said. “That ball in the gap, I thought that was going to score two with two outs. We hit two balls down the line that their right fielder made a nice play on.”
The Hawks also had a runner doubled off second on a line drive.
“We’ve got to clean some things up,” Doty said. “Obviously, you can’t play a good club and have a couple of baserunning mistakes.”
Teply would pitch six innings for the Hawks, giving up three runs – two earned – on seven hits while striking out eight. Sophomore Ryan Lewis threw a scoreless inning of relief.
Espinal, Sosa, Vermeire, Samuels and Lucas Glendinning all had hits for the Hawks.
Prior to the Rockledge game, the Hawks had a good week, winning three of four games including a district win over New Smyrna Beach.
Viera, which has perhaps the toughest schedule of all Brevard County baseball teams this season, is set to host Winter Springs on Thursday, followed by road games at Eau Gallie and Merritt Island the following week. The Hawks will close out their regular season on April 22 at home against Bayside.
“We’re excited about what we’ve got coming up this week,” Doty said.