Lakewood Ranch’s 25-24 victory over Taravella in the Sarasota Baseball Classic has to go down as a classic all of its own in the annals of the school’s baseball program.
We can’t call it the most important or most exciting because the 2003 team that won a state championship gave its fans some memorable, breathtaking moments.
When the Mustangs were on their way to winning the Class 5A State Title in ‘03 there were some come from behind wins, including a game where they had to score two runs in their last at-bat to earn a 6-5 region first round victory over Naples Gulf Coast that would’ve been a major upset.
It was the only close game Lakewood Ranch had in the post season until it reached the state championship game when it defeated Tallahassee Lincoln 6-5.
This Lakewood Ranch team is a lot different than the 2003 group. It is young and there are no super stars to match the likes of Lastings Milledge, Ryan Kennedy and Larry Cobb.
The best prospect on this year’s club is freshman Brett Hanewich, a 6-2, 185 pound switch hitting shortstop. The best player is Dylan Horn, a lefty pitcher with three solid pitches who does remind one of Ryan LaCross and Brent Solich, the two standout pitchers on the ’03 team.
Horn can throw hard and has mastered the art of throwing the change-up, which has become a lethal weapon in his pitching arsenal.
There are eight sophomores and Hanewich, who play key roles on this team, which makes for a bright future. To say they might equal that ’03 team would be a reach. That group was special, maybe a once in a lifetime team that comes through a high school every 20 years or so and they had the perfect person to lead them in head coach Dave Moates.
Lakewood Ranch didn’t have to share players with Braden River High in those days, which makes it even more difficult to match that talent again.
Today, if we could take the top players from Braden River and Lakewood Ranch and put them on one team you might have the makings of something very special.
Don’t want to put too much pressure on Hanewich, who is only 15 years old. But right now he is the leading candidate to become a player in the mold of someone like a Lastings Milledge, Mike Ohlman, Ryan Kennedy or Larry Cobb. Take your pick, but that’s some pretty good company.
So if Ranch and Braden River combined its baseball teams right now who would be the eight position starters and who would be the two top starting pitchers.