Sharks can't contain state No. 1

Nature Coast loses the lead for good in the fifth inning against Bishop Moore.

Published May 2, 2007

ORLANDO - One hop.

Really, that's all it took for Orlando Bishop Moore to seize the momentum and dash Nature Coast's lead in the Sharks' Class 4A region debut. Bishop Moore, ranked No. 1 in the state, came from behind to defeat Nature Coast 8-4 on Tuesday, thanks largely to a double Alex Mendez ripped up the third-base line in the fifth inning.

The ball, which brought the Bishop Moore crowd to its feet for the first time since his leadoff homer, took a weird hop and made its way deep into the outfield. Mendez reached second and scored Jeff Caldwell to narrow Nature Coast's lead to 4-2. The Sharks' lead started to slip away as Bishop built more momentum. The next three batters recorded hits, with Ben McMahan notching a double that scored Nick Cox to give Bishop the lead. Six runs later, the damage was done. Mendez topped it off with a homer in the sixth inning.

"That rally went from one bad hop at third, " senior centerfielder Kyle Kuzniar said. "Just one play opened the flood gates."

The Sharks (20-7) simply couldn't string the few hits they got as their season came to a close on Bishop's field. Even though the Sharks' program is only four years old, they weren't intimidated by Bishop Moore, a team that has played in the state semifinals the past three seasons and reached the state title game twice in the past six seasons.

"We came here to win, " Nature Coast coach Dan Garofano said. "We didn't win so that's disappointing. But I think we showed well. ...This is a building block for our program."

Bishop Moore

Nature Coast 4