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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
By EMILY NIPPS and CRISTINA LEDRA
Published May 4, 2005
BROOKSVILLE - After waiting years for this moment, Hernando Christian wasn't going to let this one slip away. The Lions gave their fans a pretty good scare, though.
Playing their first home game on their new baseball field, the top-seeded Lions came out pumped against Cedar Key in the district semifinals. By the fifth inning, the giddy feelings of playing on their own turf wore off as the Sharks mounted a comeback.
Hernando Christian (13-12) held off the Sharks with sharp defensive plays, winning 6-3. It was a relief to the Lions, who were afraid of jinxing their new field before they could fully break it in.
"I think it's huge (winning the first game on the field)," senior third baseman Tim Whatley said. "We started off with a bang in the beginning, feeding off the crowd and all of the emotions running through the field. But I think we got emotionally drained towards the end of the game."
Whatley was key in Hernando Christian's first inning, in which he smacked a triple into deep rightfield to send second baseman Noah Lane home. Jake Bowe singled to score Whatley and pitcher Zack Bowe followed with a single to score Jake Bowe, giving the Lions a quick three-run cushion.
After scoring again in the second and third innings, the Lions' pitching and hitting began to break down just as Cedar Key's were heating up. The Sharks scored three runs in the fifth, coming within two of tying the Lions. The Lions held them off the rest of the way, adding a run for security.
In the second game, Drew Donovan's two-out double in the fifth inning sent home the winning run for Seven Rivers, which beat Ocala St. John Lutheran 3-2.
Seven Rivers (14-6) showed its depth, getting key hits from the bottom third of its lineup and holding the Saints to just two hits. Seven Rivers' Chad Peets struck out five, walked three and allowed no earned runs. He also went 1-for-2 with a walk, double and RBI.
The victory earned Seven Rivers' 5-year-old program a spot in its first district title game and the Warriors believe they have yet to play their best baseball of the year.
"We really played like a team," Peets said. "But I know we can play better. We can hit better and I can pitch better and I know we're better than what we played (Tuesday)."