Red Devils ride the storm out to win over Discovery | Local

Red Devils ride the storm out to win over Discovery | Local
Red Devils ride the storm out to win over Discovery | Local

AVON PARK – A rain delay, a majestic homerun, another delay for lightning and mastery on the mound were some of the key elements in the Avon Park Red Devils (16-8) 4-0 win over the Discovery Spartans (18-9) at Charles R Head Field Tuesday night.

Rain pounded Avon Park before the scheduled 7 pm start time and the game got underway by 8 pm with the Red Devils sending their ace Bradley Benton on the mound to face Discovery in the Class 3A-District 7 semifinal game with the winner advancing to the Championship game.

Discovery advanced to the semifinal after beating the Frostproof Bulldogs on Monday night, 3-2.

The first two innings were scoreless, with Benton only giving up a walk and Discovery starter Cameron Brown giving up a hit single to Eric Harrison Jr in the first inning.

With potential bad weather aiming towards Avon Park, both pitchers did not waste much time between pitches, Benton noticeably a little quicker between deliveries and Cameron nearly starting his windup before the Avon Park batter was settled in the box. Whether anybody saw the streaks of lightning in the distant background just above the tree lines or heard the low rumble of thunder, nobody was talking about it.

At the bottom of the third, the sound of thunder followed by a shot of lightning came in a different form.

With one out and Avon Park at bat, Carson Cloud reached base after being hit by a pitch and reached second on a single by Mekhi Taylor. Carson later scored on a groundball error hit to second base by Benton that gave the Red Devils a 1-0 lead.

Cam Engler went in as a courtesy runner for Benton, although he did not have to stay there long as Harrison came up to bat. First pitch swinging, the ball jumped off Harrison’s bat almost instantly leaving no doubt that it was not destined to stay in the park as Taylor and Engler raced around the bases to meet Harrison at home after completing his homerun trot that put Avon Park up 4- 0 after three innings.

Fast forward to the sixth inning with two outs, the game was stopped again for lightning proximity, although not technically within the distance per guideline, close enough that umpires and managers agreed to halt for about 20 minutes.

The importance of this, Benton had yet to give up a hit in 5.2 innings pitched. There are some key defensive plays that got Benton to this point. The first being third baseman Jace King being able to backhand a foul ball at the fence to end the first inning.

The second by centerfielder Mekhi Taylor, flying out of nowhere to track down and catch a flyball in the right-center field gap and second baseman Dorian Taylor being able to stretch behind him after the ball drifted a little further than he first judged on a high popup to short right field.

When the game resumed, Benton would not need any defensive help with the exception of his catcher KJ Massey as he struck out the next batter to end the sixth and then struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh to pitch a complete game no- hitter to give Avon Park the 4-0 win and advance to play Fort Meade in the Class 3A-District 7 championship game on Thursday.

Fort Meade beat Avon Park both times they played; 5-1 and 5-3.

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