LAKEWOOD RANCH — Cardinal Mooney High senior left-hander Pat Heuler did exactly what he needed to do.
He located his pitches. He kept The Out-of-Door Academy batters off balance. And, most importantly, he put his team in a position to win.
Cardinal Mooney coach John Bennett couldn’t have asked for anything more in the Cougars’ first Class 3A-District 10 game of the season March 5.
Heuler pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits and five walks, while striking out eight to lead the visiting Cougars (6-3, 2-0) to a 5-1 victory over the rival Thunder.
“He’s been pretty good all year for the last two years,” Bennett says of Heuler. “He was locating really good with his command tonight. He was able to locate pitches when we needed him.”
ODA (7-3, 2-1) took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI by pitcher Alex Horan.
Cardinal Mooney tied the game in the top of the third inning. Heuler drew a walk and eventually came around to score on an RBI by Beau Billings.
The Cougars added a pair of runs in the fourth inning on hits by Flynn Angly and Bucky Bonynge and RBIs by Nick Bisplinghoff and Davis Roddenberry.
The Cougars scored again in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Angly went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Bonygne went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI. Austin Bingham went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and an RBI.
“This has been our rival for a year-and-a-half now, and anytime you can come in and get a district win against a team that you know is going to be there at the end — we’ll probably see them three times — is big just to start off that way and just to come out with a big win,” Bennett says.
The Thunder had a pair of base runners in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but was unable to scratch across another run.
“Heuler did a great job tonight,” ODA coach Billy Dietrich says. “Execution-wise, they did exactly what they were supposed to do. Give them hats off. They beat us straight up.
“It was a good baseball game,” he says. “Good pitching on both sides, and they executed and we didn’t. Both sides played a good and clean baseball game. They just beat us tonight, but we’ll get better and move on.”
Desmond Lindsay went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and a run scored to lead the way for ODA at the plate. Horan pitched six innings for the Thunder, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks. Lindsay pitched the final inning, allowing one run on one hit and a walk, while striking out three.
The two district rivals will meet April 12 for the second of what they hope will be at least three meetings this season.