Lamb goes the distance for the victorious Leopards

Published March 24, 2006

BROOKSVILLE - If you wanted to nitpick, you could point out the seven walks, the hit batter or maybe the fact that his own coach didn't know he had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning.

But no matter how you look at it, the two-hitter Ryan Lamb pitched in his first start of the season will go down as a successful one.

The Hernando junior pitched all seven innings, allowing his first hit with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, as the Leopards beat Central 5-2 and continued their undefeated run through county play.

"I wasn't really nervous," said Lamb, who had made a few relief appearances before getting the start Thursday. "I was more anxious. I didn't get my tempo until the fourth or fifth inning."

For a while, it looked like Lamb might record one of the least statistically-dominant no-hitters of all time. By the time Central recorded its first hit - a Brian Nicolini single with two outs in the sixth - the Bears had reached base six times. In fact, Central had runners on base with fewer than two outs in five of seven innings, and had the leadoff man on in three of those innings.

"He was just wild enough to keep them off balance," Leopards coach Tim Sims said.

Hernando took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, increased it to 3-0 in the second on an RBI single by Kyle Neal and bumped it up to 5-0 in the sixth on a two-run double by Kai Huff.

Though Lamb finished with seven walks and a hit batter, he breezed through the first six innings without much trouble.

Both he and Sims said they weren't aware of the potential no-hitter until after the Bears claimed their first hit, and both player and coach quickly forgot about it when Central loaded the bases with one out in the seventh.

After allowing runs on a fielder's choice and a single, Lamb got Jason Nicolini to pop up to end the game.

"He was nervous," Sims said. "I told him, "All right, now you have your first start out of the way.' "

Hernando improved to 4-0 in county play, and 8-5 overall. The Leopards have now won five games in a row.

National Baseball Classic

ORLANDO - With one last chance to leave with some momentum and a victory, Lecanto suffered a 12-3 defeat at the hands of Franklin Roads. The game was played to determine 15th place and was the fourth loss in as many days for the Panthers.

Lecanto coach Jim Manos summed up his team's performance as"disappointing."

The Panthers again broke into the scoring column first, pushing two runs across home plate in the first and knocking out Franklin Roads' starting pitcher after a third of an inning. But the game seemed to be a replay of the previous night's contest. Lecanto gave up five runs in the third and three in the next inning to seal its fate.

In other action, Citrus left Orlando with a good feeling as it overcame a three-run first inning by Christ Presbyterian to score a 13-5 victory and claim 11th place.

Citrus coach Jon Bolin said his team failed to get into a rhythm and comfort zone when the game started. This assessment despite the Hurricanes knocking in four runs in the first two innings.

Randy Hernandez homered in the first to get the Hurricanes started on the comeback trail. Citrus added another in the frame and two in the second to take the lead. They finished off the job in the fourth with six runs for a 12-3 lead. Citrus starter Derek DeSomma struck out 10, including the side in the second as he went the first five innings.

- NEAL FISHER, Times correspondent