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Pirates wrap up GCAC race


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 13, 2003

LECANTO -- Crystal River wrapped up its third consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championship Saturday with a 6-3 win against Lecanto.

The Pirates (18-4) were 9-1 in conference play.

"I'm very proud of this team," coach Brent Hall said. "With seven new starters we were able to go through the conference again and were right where we wanted to be."

Zac Cole (2-0) got his first start in more than a month for Crystal River due to a back problem. The senior gave up two hits in six innings with seven strikeouts and three earned runs before being replaced by Richard Covey.

"It was a good win," Cole said.

"He really had command of everything tonight," Hall said.

With the score tied 1-1 heading into the third, Crystal River went up for good on a two-run home run by Tim Embree.

The Pirates led 4-1 when Embree stole home on an attempt to pick off Ryan Pearson at second base, and added runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

Lecanto (6-14, 1-7) made seven errors and left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth. The Panthers also made things interesting in the sixth, with an RBI triple by Stephen Laquerre, who later scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3.

Lecanto coach Brian Donovan said Friday's 6-5 loss to Citrus was similar, that the Panthers were fighting right until the end.

"Our kids came to play and we were really emotional, but we didn't come out on top," Donovan said. "I'm not disappointed in the loss, I was (Friday) night but I'm not because I think our kids realize that we can play with them. And I think Crystal River knows we can play with them on a even field."

Starting pitcher Jake McClelland (3-2) gave up four hits and had six strikeouts and four walks in 4 2/3 innings.

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