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Mitchell has more than just beating a rival on its mind in the 5-1 win over Wesley Chapel.
By FRANK PASTOR
Published April 1, 2005
TRINITY - Never mind the two losses to Wesley Chapel earlier in the season.
Mitchell senior Theo Papapanos had all the motivation he needed to beat the Wildcats on Thursday when Michael Motycka, a 15-year-old from Sarasota with spina bifida, arrived at the field in his wheelchair.
For his senior project, Papapanos is raising money to help Motycka fulfill his dream of meeting Sammy Sosa at the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh.
"As soon as (Motycka came) in, I was like, "I've got to play for this kid,' " Papapanos said. "I didn't play for just the team; I played for him, and I wanted him to at least remember this game down the road."
Motycka won't easily forget Mitchell's 5-1 victory. Louis Oliveri pitched a two-hitter, and Papapanos drove in two runs as the Mustangs (8-6) took advantage of five Wesley Chapel errors to send the Wildcats (7-7) to their sixth consecutive loss.
It was Papapanos' idea to honor Motycka during the game. Motycka sat with the players and received a signed ball, hat and shirt during a mid-game ceremony at home plate. He cheered for Mitchell after it took a two-run lead in the second inning.
"Let's keep it that way," Motycka exclaimed.
Oliveri did his part, using a newly-developed changeup to keep hitters off balance in his first start of the season. The right-hander struck out seven while allowing two hits and three walks in six innings before giving way to Ryan Garton.
"I was telling coach all week I wanted to pitch, that I felt good," Oliveri said. "He told me in order to be a pitcher I have to develop a changeup, and that's what I was working on. (Thursday), it was efficient for me, and my defense was helping me out a lot."
Displeased with the lack of fight he saw in his team after a recent loss to East Ridge, Mitchell coach Phil Bell called a team meeting after practice Wednesday. The Mustangs reminded themselves of things they have done well, such as pitching and defense, and stated their goals of a plus-.500 record and return trip to the playoffs.
"We wanted to rebound from the game that we played against East Ridge more than this," Bell said.
"We don't really worry about the team we're playing. We just want to play well the next time out, and I was glad that we played well."