Ian Dempsey ‘21
With the first of three consecutive games taking place on Feb. 24, the Riverview Rams’ baseball squad opened with a 6-0 shutout over North Port. All three pitchers for the Rams were absolutely lights out as senior pitcher Clemente Febus threw four shutout innings, while junior pitchers Austin Harford and Zach McIntire came in relief to secure the win, by virtue of two innings from Harford and one inning from McIntire.
A shutout is not just some normal victory for the pitchers, though, as when this occurs, they get to take batting practice with the hitters on the next non-game day. The probability that this event happens is in fact very rare, yet the cook of that top sirloin didn’t seem to be rare enough on Wednesday night. Marked by a 9-0 no-hit victory over Naples Gulf Coast and a 1-0 triumph over Venice during the 2020 shortened season, the Rams pitchers cherished the opportunity to take batting practice twice last year in just nine games being played. Possibly a similar trend will happen this year too as it only took three games for the pitchers to repeat that scheme in all its entirety.
On the offensive side, senior infielder/outfielder Carter Knight led the way for the Rams going a perfect 3-3 and drew a walk. Senior outfielder Ian Dempsey went 1-4 with a clutch single that drove in two runs and scored a run himself, senior utility Kyle Upman drove in the game’s first run with a long double into the left-center gap and ended up going 1-3, and junior infielders Clay Russin and Pip Smalley each had a run batted in themselves, as Russin finished the night 2-4 and Smalley went 1-4 with a run scored.
Now, the focus shifted over to Out-of-Door Academy, a small, private school located east on University. Despite its size, the school has proven to be a sleeper within its class. With the Rams being situated in Class 7A because of Riverview’s massive school population, ODA, short for Out-of-Door Academy, finds itself in Class 2A. The process of classing is based upon school population, as Riverview and ODA turn out to basically be on opposite ends of the spectrum. From not even 500 students to over 2,500 students, there is an immense difference between each school. As a result, most of the schools that are in a higher class tend to be more well-rounded, yet this was not the case here one day later. The ODA Thunder defeated the Rams by a score of 4-1 with a 4-run fourth inning that paved the way for the rest of the game. Riverview did not strike until the final inning in the top of the seventh when Febus stroked a double to right field to drive in Knight. Despite losing this game, the Rams felt extremely confident moving forward about their next matchup against IMG Black back at home.
Nothing is better than a Friday night under the lights as the Rams were looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season. In fact, a couple weeks ago, the Rams beat IMG Black 3-2 at home. Yet, unfortunately, there was no déjà vu as the Rams dropped this game 2-1 in extra innings. The Rams only run came on a Smalley double to left field in the bottom of the third inning to bring home junior infielder Dylan Wilds. While it looked as though the Rams were going to hold onto this miniscule lead, IMG Black avenged and took that deficit off the board with one run in the top of the seventh and final inning to tie it. One inning later, and they scored another run to put themselves ahead 2-1, as this was how the game ended.
It was such a heartbreaking loss and way to end the week for the Rams as they now had a cold taste in their mouths until Tuesday night when they were set to square off against their rival the Venice Indians at home. With Lakewood Ranch coming on tonight at home, the Rams have dialed back in and gotten their mindsets right at the plate. Two runs over the span of two games is ultimately a set-up for failure, as the pitchers and catchers have to be perfect and in sync. As a result, the Rams will be put to the test this week, hoping to bounce back.