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Long ball helps 'Canes continue Pirates' slump


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2003

INVERNESS -- Citrus pitcher Luke Czerwinski had to think pretty hard to remember the last time he was on a baseball team that beat an opponent from Crystal River.

"Geez, it was Little League All-Stars when I was 13," said Czerwinski, a senior.

That changed Wednesday when the host Hurricanes beat Class 3A No.10 Crystal River 7-5.

In five innings on the mound, Czerwinski gave up four earned runs and had four strikeouts. He improved to 4-0 on the season.

"It felt great, it's always good to beat a team like that," Czerwinski said. "I just wanted to see if I could get through the fifth inning and get (closer) Darrel (Brooks) out there and slam the door down."

Citrus (10-12) came close earlier this season. On March21, the 'Canes lost a 9-7 decision that coach Jon Bolin called something to build on.

"Really and truly, last time when we were over there we didn't play good defense," Bolin said. "If we would have, we would have come out a winner, I would think."

It was a different story Wednesday, as Citrus turned two key double plays.

The team's offense also came alive, and the way the wind was blowing out, Bolin said even he could hit one out of the park.

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the third inning, Czerwinski was hit by a pitch to get on base. Brooks came up with a double and Keith Zigler's three-run home run put the 'Canes ahead.

In the fourth, Citrus' Matt McCollom reached on an error. After a Robert Taylor single, Brooks smacked a three-run shot to pad the lead.

Crystal River (16-4) came back in the fifth behind a two-run home run by senior William Bunch, but could not score again.

"The home run to Bunch was probably a mistake on my part," Bolin said. "I called a fastball and he's pretty much a fastball hitter. Luke got it out over the plate and Bunch did what good hitters do, he hit it a long way."

For Crystal River, Richard Covey pitched four innings, giving up six earned runs and striking out three. The Pirates dropped their third straight game after a 14-game winning streak was snapped Friday at Dunnellon.

"We took advantage of the chances we had when they had runners on," Bolin said. "We pitched to our strengths. We were able to get the ground balls we needed to and get the outs that we needed to."

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