MOUNT DORA — Leesburg Premier Academy has picked the perfect time to claim their district’s victory in school history.
The Eagles scored eight runs in the first inning and earned a 14-4 victory over Ocala St. John Lutheran on Monday in the first round of the Class 2A-District 5 baseball tournament at MDCA’s Shane Hunton Memorial Field.
With the win, First Academy moved to 11-4 this season and advanced to Tuesday’s district semifinals against Brooksville Hernando Christian. The game was stopped after 4½ innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The loss ended St. John Lutheran’s season with a 3-13 record.
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“I’m happy with the way our boys played,” said First Academy coach Clint Patterson. “They also play with class and integrity, but we are still not satisfied. We came here not just to win our first district game, but to win the whole district and this is just the first step on that path.
“We got everyone in the game and I’m very proud of everyone’s attitude and how they prepared to play.”
The Eagles jump ahead
The First Academy wasted no time proving they were prepared. After starting pitcher Brock Jones put the Saints in order in the first half of the first inning, First Academy launched their offense down the frame. Bryson Barnett hosted St. John Lutheran starter Wylie North with a brace and scored when two-hole hitter Reid Patterson reached him on an error.
Bryce Cherry followed with a two-run homer — a splash into a pond behind the center field fence — for a 3-0 lead.
And the rout was on.
First Academy’s first batters reached base and scored. The Eagles sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning and scored eight runs on six hits. First Academy added two more runs in second and four in third to seal the win.
The Saints went on the scoreboard with a point in second and third in fifth. Four Eagles pitchers limited St. John Lutheran to five hits, including three for extra bases.
Because the Eagles took a big lead early, Patterson was able to limit the pitch count of his pitchers so everyone was still available to work in Tuesday’s semifinals. Jones was followed up the hill by Nathan Johnson, Cody Rojas and Jonathan Scouten.
Jones pitched two innings, allowing one run on a hit and striking out two. Johnson, however, took the win, going two innings and allowing no runs on just two hits.
Rojas and Scouten combined to work the fifth.
Six Eagles – Barnett, Patterson, Bryce Cherry, Jacob Pishko, Jones and Cason Cherry – scored two points apiece. Barnett, Bryce and Cason Cherry each had two hits. All but one of the Eagles’ starters have scored at least one run.
Trace Dyess paced the Saints attack with two doubles.
Prior to the game, Bryce Cherry, Pishko and Patterson were recognized for being named to the All Districts team. Anthony Phipps was the Saints representative on the team.
In addition to First Academy’s semi-final match on Tuesday, the district’s top seed – Mount Dora Christian Academy – was scheduled to face Lecanto Seven Rivers Christian Academy in the second semi-final. Seven Rivers Christian beat Ocala Redeemer Christian 5-4 in Monday’s other first-round match to earn a spot in the semifinals.
The winners of Tuesday’s semifinals will face off at 7 p.m. Thursday for the district championship.