Lakewood High School's varsity baseball team had just one hit in the bottom of the first inning of its regular-season finale against Manning on Thursday at the LHS field.
The Gators, however, returned to the field for the second inning with a 6-1 lead as MHS helped them out quite a bit. The Monarchs were never able to recover from that as Lakewood went on to a 10-4 victory on Senior Night.
"Manning sure helped us out a lot in that first inning," said LHS head coach Bill DeLavan, whose team improved to 11-8 on the season. "Their guy (starting pitcher Jesse Surette) couldn't throw strikes and we were able to take advantage of it."
Along with the one hit and three stolen bases, the Gators took advantage of one Manning error, four walks and three hit by pitches.
"We did a lot of that to ourselves," said MHS head coach Steven Crisanti, whose team dropped to 7-11. "We put ourselves in a hole that we couldn't get out of."
Lakewood's Wyatt Thompson drew a walk to start the first and stole second. He moved to third when Dalton Browder reached on an error. After Daquan Ingram popped out on the infield, Josh Whitley singled home Thompson to tie the game at 1-1.
Browder scored on a wild pitch, as did the next two runs. Surette, who recorded two outs, was pulled in favor of Trevin Harrison after going through the order. Harrison, a freshman making his first appearance on the mound as a varsity player, hit both Thompson and Browder with the bases loaded to make it 6-1.
"I'm really glad that we were able to take advantage of that," DeLavan said. "For whatever reason, we weren't as sharp as we have been. We might have been in trouble otherwise, but we're happy to get a victory."
Ingram, a right-hander, started on the mound for LHS. After the Monarchs scored a run in the top of the first, he pitched four scoreless innings. Ingram allowed six hits while striking out five and walking one.
"Daquan wasn't as sharp as he has been," DeLavan said. "It's hard to match what he did in his last two starts though, but he gutted it out for us."
Manning actually outhit LHS 8-7. MHS left eight runners on base, seven of them in scoring position.
"We just didn't string the hits together and get the big hit when we needed it," Crisanti said.
Eric Johnson led the Monarchs, going 4-for-4, and Harrison had three hits. Harrison worked 5 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and four runs.
"Trevin did a really good job for someone who hadn't pitched since pitching in the first junior varsity game of the season," Crisanti said.
Whitley had two hits and two runs batted in to lead the LHS offense. Hunter Day had two hits and Ingram had a hit and two RBI. Thompson, Browder, Day and Zach Tidwell each scored two runs.
Lakewood honored seven seniors - Ingram, Thompson, Charles McFarland, Whitley, Zach Coulson, Dwayne Hill and Andrew Rouse.
"Those players have played an important role in this program," said DeLavan, whose team will open the 4A state playoffs on Tuesday on the road, likely against Myrtle Beach.
Manning will be on the road in the 3A state playoffs.