Forest tops Lake Weir in preseason baseball
Lake Weir’s Dominic Toste (7) loses his hat and the ball as Forest’s Jayden Williar (10) collides with him and slides safely into second base during a preseason baseball game at Lake Weir High School in Candler, Fla. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. Forest won the game 9-1. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.
Forest junior Kaden Smith tossed three scoreless innings and lined a two-run double to key an eight-run outburst to lead the Wildcats to a 9-1 win over Lake Weir in Wednesday night’s preseason game.
Smith combined with three relievers on a no-hitter, as Class 6A Forest broke a 1-1 tie with eight runs in the top of the seventh inning to open the season on a positive note.
“I felt like we weren’t focused and that’s what we just talked about,” said Wildcats first-year coach Mark Streit. “We need to show up with a chip on our shoulder like other teams do. Forest has a great tradition, but that doesn’t win you baseball games, what wins you games is what you do between the lines. Kaden pitched well, had a big hit and is going to be good for us the next two years. His work ethic is good, he just needs to dial it in and be a bulldog and a competitor every single pitch.”
Lake Weir loaded the bases and had an opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Class 4A Hurricanes failed to score in falling to the Wildcats.
“I thought the game went well and the guys competed,” said Lake Weir coach Colby Wisdom. “A lot of new faces for us and getting them an opportunity to play together was good. We struggled with the bats a little bit, but it’s early and I’m just happy to see us play hard.”
Lake Weir starter Manuel Geisel was in fine form, as the senior right-hander allowed one run and struck out six in his four innings of work.
Forest’s Smith, a hard-throwing right-hander who has committed to Texas Christian University, allowed no runs and struck out eight in his three innings.
The Wildcats, who had four hits, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of walks, a stolen base and a sacrifice fly by Kohl Kilcrease.
Lake Weir answered in the bottom of the frame off Forest right-hander Jonathan Rubin, as a walk, a hit batter and an error allowed Easton Turner to cross the plate to tie the score at 1.
Rubin hurled two innings, Ben Baines pitched a scoreless sixth inning and Mike Mellucci closed out the game for the Wildcats.
Lake Weir’s Chris Adleburg tossed two scoreless innings of relief before running into trouble in the top of the seventh inning.
Andrew Smith led off with a walk, stole second base, moved to third base on a single by Porter Craig and scored on a double by Brock White. Kaden Smith followed with a two-run double and Robert Kohler lined a run-scoring single. When the dust had settled, Forest had scored eight runs and led 9-1.
“Kohler is a sophomore and came up last year and played a big role for us in the playoffs,” coach Streit said. “He’s consistent and you get the same thing every day.”
Baines earned the win for the Wildcats, while Mellucci preserved the shutout and combined no-hitter by retiring Lake Weir in order in the bottom of the inning.
Forest is back on the diamond on Thursday night with a game against North Marion, while Lake Weir hosts North Marion on Friday night.