Conchs rally in sixth inning to stop Carrollwood



Tortured into the sixth inning by a catch that wasn’t, the Key West High baseball team exploded for six runs in that frame and stopped Tampa Carrollwood Day’s march through the South, 7-3, Tuesday night at Rex Weech Field.

In the third inning, Frank Furey drove a fly ball between Conch center fielder Steven Wells and right fielder Andy Perez. Both Key West players took off for it and it appeared that Wells had caught it, but after initially ruling he had, the two umpires decided he hadn’t and Furey ended up on second base.

After the game, the infield umpire refused to say whether Wells had dropped the ball or it had fallen between the outfielders – only saying that Florida High School Athletic Association rules prohibit him from commenting.

Key West starting pitcher Jay Feathers struck out the next batter, but Alex Ceions advanced Furey to third on a high-hopper single into center field. The Patriots loaded the bases when Feathers hit the next batter and two came home when Hunter Creech singled down the right field line. A third scored on a wild pitch.

Key West got one run back in the fourth on a pair of errors, a single by Greg Veliz and a ground out by Hugo Valdes.

After continuing hitting the ball hard, but straight at infielders, the Conchs made something happen out of almost nothing in the sixth. Wells, who had come in to pitch the top of the inning, hit a single that the Carrollwood third baseman couldn’t handle. Perez laid down a sacrifice bunt right at first baseman Jordan Ramos and when Perez crashed into him, Ramos dropped the ball for an error. Veliz followed with a line drive at Ramos and it went off his glove into right field. That drove in one run. Valdes walked to load the bases and Darren Miller, up with the bases loaded, tried to take one for the team, catching a pitch on his left shoulder. However, the home plate umpire ruled that Miller had intentionally stepped into the pitch and only ruled it a called ball. Just as well.

Miller followed by attacking an outside pitch and driving it into right field, scoring the tying run. With the bases still loaded, Brandon Presley successfully took one, getting hit by the pitch and finally getting Key West the lead. Hunter Sellers grounded out to plate the fourth run of the inning and catcher Chris Varela brought in two more with a double to right field.

Wells (2-0) struck out the side in the top of the seventh to end it. Both teams had but five hits, however, while the Conchs played errorless ball, the Patriots committed five errors.

Carrollwood (6-4) began its spring break trip by defeating Miami Country Day and continued with lopsided wins at Coral Shores and Marathon before Key West stopped the streak.

The Conchs, now 11-2 including a pair of preseason wins, has games at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, against Calusa Prep at Rex Weech Field. Coral Shores visits Key West next Tuesday in a contest that will determine the top seed for the District 16-4A post-season tournament.

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