After scoring five runs through the first five games, Father Lopez exploded for 12 runs on Tuesday night.
BY ANDREW O'BRIEN | SPORTS EDITOR
ORMOND BEACH — Just two innings into Tuesday’s game against Warner Christian, things looked as if they were going to be more of the same for the Father Lopez baseball team.
The Green Wave were already trailing the Eagles, 2-0, in the first District 5-3A game of the season. On a larger level, Father Lopez came into the game winless in its first five games — scoring just five runs total in those games.
But instead of finishing the way the other five games went, Father Lopez went into attack mode, led by freshman Hunter Connor, who came on in relief in the third inning.
He set the tone for the Father Lopez offense, which went on to score 12 unanswered runs to beat Warner Christian, 12-2, in six innings.
“It’s still a rough start,” Father Lopez coach Trevor Berryhill said after the game. “But I always tell the guys, ‘District games are what matter. Even if you don’t get the No. 1 seed going into the district tournament, it’s not the end of the world.’”
Things are quite different for Berryhill and his squad this season. After winning the district championship and advancing to the Class 3A regional finals, the Green Wave graduated nine seniors from what Berryhill called a very experienced team.
This year, Father Lopez’s roster is freshmen, sophomores and juniors. There isn’t a senior on the squad.
“Our season is a building block,” Berryhill said, noting that he would be nervous if his team was 6-0 at this point in the season. “We want to be playing our best ball at the end of the season. We have a young club. They just have to keep working hard.”
The young talent is led by Connor, who hurled four scoreless innings and tallied 10 strikeouts—slamming the door shut on Warner Christian’s offense after the second inning.
Fellow freshman Ryan Miranda started the game. He surrendered two runs in the first two innings.
“First district game, I throw two freshmen into the fire, and they did well,” Berryhill said.
Although it’s just one win, Berryhill said he hopes it could be the turning point in the season for some of the players learning lessons of the game.
“We have a long way to go before we understand how to play this game at a high level,” he said. “This group has a lot of talent, but they’re not quite there yet.”
Father Lopez returns just two players from last year’s roster of 15 players — one who had significant playing time. Berryhill said the beginning part of the season has mostly been focused on his players getting to know each other and how to play with each other.
Tuesday's win was just one of what Berryhill and the Green Wave hope will be many by the time districts roll around. But they will continue to take it one at-bat and one game at a time.
“It’s a learning process,” Berryhill said.
SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE
Friday, Feb. 28 @ Warner Christian
Tuesday, March 4 vs. Master’s Academy (at Embry-Riddle)
Friday, March 7 @ Master’s Academy
Tuesday, March 11 vs. Canterbury
Thursday, March 13 vs. Canterbury