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Lake Brantley Cruises Past Lake Howell In Season Opener

Mike Ruff struck out 12 in Lake Brantley's 8-2 win.

To some fans in the crowd wrapped in jackets and scarves, the season opener could have been pushed back for a few weeks. But the Lake Howell Silver Hawks and Lake Brantley Patriots were more than ready to play. The scene was set for a great matchup and a plethora of Major League scouts were in attendance anticipating a great game between two powerhouse ball clubs.

The first inning allowed both teams to have six of their guys see an at-bat. The Silver Hawks had two players hit-by-pitch on back-to-back at-bats but failed to capitalize that into any runs. Lake Brantley senior, Mike Ruff, struck out the side in the first to keep the Hawks at bay.

When the game moved to the bottom of the first, all the hype from pregame became a reality. These scouts were here for a reason and sure got what they traveled for. Leadoff batter Jay Charleston, who has already fully committed to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, was just a home run shy of the cycle on the night.

“I was going up there and just wanted to hit the ball,” Charleston said. “I got down a few times but stayed aggressive and threw my hands through the zone. I go back to the doctor tomorrow to get my arm cleared to keep throwing so I won’t have to DH much longer. I just want to get back on the field and help this team.”

Lake Howell gained their confidence back when their catcher, Carlos Cortes, hit a soaring two-run home run over the left-center field fence. A big blast had the Silver Hawks’ spirits lifted. Lake Howell’s manager Andy Lyon knew tonight wasn’t a favorable match-up for his squad, but that didn’t deter anyone in that dugout from believing they were not in it until the final out was recorded.

Alex Wills went 2-for-4 at the plate today with a big home run in the second inning.

“We have got a long way to go,” Lyon said. “Communication is key, and we were completely out-matched at the plate. Ruff is good. He was mixing it up, fastball up in the zone, and he got us to chase it. We’ve got a long way to go, but I know we’ll get there.”

Replacing Charleston in his normal position of second base, Alex Wills had big shoes to fill. He delivered the goods With a towering home run of his own. Wills ignited the Patriots offense to six unanswered runs. With big bats at the plate, and senior Florida Atlantic University commit Mike Ruff’s gifted arm, the Patriots were able to control the game from start to finish.

Lake Brantley manager Eric Entrekin was very pleased to start the season off on the right foot.

“Offensively we swung the bats real well,” Entrekin said. “We had 11 hits, six extra base hits, so I was really pleased about that. Ruff is a strikeout guy; he’s our leader on the mound. His pitch count was up and I wanted him to get six, but I’m very pleased with a solid five from him.”

Both of these squads can be seen next throughout the week back at Lake Brantley, as they finish off their annual tournament to commence the start of this year’s baseball season.

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