SMYRNA — Tyler Collins calmed things down, Eric Berardicelli prevented some runs and the Lake Forest High offense pounded out enough runs for a win on Monday that’s sure to turn some heads.
Collins had three RBI at the plate, scored twice and pitched the final six innings to lead the Spartans to a come-from-behind 8-7 Henlopen Conference baseball victory at Smyrna.
As a Henlopen South team, Lake Forest (1-1) knows just how important it is to beat a team from the Henlopen North.
“It’s a heck of win and we needed this one,” Collins said. “It will shock some people. It’s shows that we aren’t a joke this year.”
“It’s a big win for us because we know, coming from the South, we’re going to have to knock off a North team or two to get into the state tournament,” said Lake coach Corey Wyatt. “This is a big stepping stone for us. I’m real proud of the team effort.”
Smyrna (1-1) rallied in the home half of the seventh. The Eagles went into the final frame trailing 8-4 but had three straight batters reach base before Dario Anderson’s RBI single made it a one-run game.
Justin Jones came up and hit a sinking liner into the gap between left and center. But Lake’s centerfielder, Berardicelli, read it off the bat and was able to rush over with a diving stab to catch the ball just off the ground.
Berardicelli rolled over and into the leaping arms of his teammates as Lake celebrated its first win over a North team since April 9, 2013.
It wasn’t even the best catch Berardicelli made Monday, though.
In the bottom of the fourth, he saved another run when Jared Gillis blasted a flyball to straightaway center with a runner on second and two outs. Berardicelli backpedaled toward the fence and dove backwards, making the catch on the warning track.
“When I landed, my head hit the fence,” Berardicelli said. “I had no clue I was that close until I landed. The ball carried right to me and I made a nice little awkward leaping catch,”
Berardicelli also had two hits, knocked in a run and stole a base on the offensive side
“I love that kid,” Wyatt said. “His work ethic, his demeanor and his attitude from the beginning of last year has been outstanding. He’s exactly what I want from a Spartan baseball player. He’s 130 pounds out there just throwing his body around. I love him to death.”
Smyrna opened up a 4-1 advantage in the bottom of the second.
Wyatt took Collins off first base and put him into pitch as he was able to limit the damage in the second. He then threw four scoreless innings before Smyrna had three runs in the seventh and finished with five strikeouts.
“He really settled the team down,” Wyatt said. “When he got on the mound it seemed like the atmosphere turned a little and we knew everything was going to be OK. He’s kind of like the understood leader so he’s our guy.”
Lake Forest tied the game at 4-4 with a three-run top of the third. Collins hit his second RBI double of the game while Dillon Cole and Berardicelli singled in a run apiece.
Collins had an RBI groundout to give the Spartans the lead in the fourth before Logan Simpson singled in another run. Lake added to the lead in the sixth with a run on a throwing error and then a sacrifice fly from Cole.
“I thought we got really flat in the middle and fell one run short,” said Smyrna coach Mike Henderson. “Not to take anything away from Lake Forest, Corey had them ready to play. We knew that they’re a scrappy team.”
Logan Simpson and Chris Sipple each had three hits and three runs for the Spartan offense. Lake was shut out in its opening game of the season, a 3-0 defeat to Sussex Central.
“We hit pretty solid today,” Berardicelli said. “We didn’t hit the ball that well in the first game, facing a good pitcher. We worked really hard at practice and hit the ball like we should.”
Mike Carrow led Smyrna with a pair of RBI, Corey Everage had a double and scored twice while Ryan Seymour provided an RBI double.
“If anything good comes out of this maybe we’ll be a little more focused,” Henderson said. “They understand now that people are coming to play them every game.”
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