Winter Haven tops Palm Harbor University at Blue Devil Classic

Ridge Community fell to Bradenton Inspiration Academy while Lakeland Christian crushed Kingdom Prep.

WINTER HAVEN — Winter Haven beat Palm Harbor University 4-0 on the second day of the 2018 Blue Devil Classic but, if you listened to Blue Devils head coach David Schafer after the game, it was less about the win and more about the preparation.

Winter Haven got the best of Florida commit Hunter Mink. They took advantage of three Hurricane errors. They want to use the Blue Devil Classic as a tune-up for the postseason.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” Schafer said. “We’re not headed in the right direction fast, but we are inching along.”

Winter Haven opened the scoring on Juan Gonzalez’s single to the shortstop in the third inning. The ball took a funny bounce over the defender’s head, allowing the runner to scoot home from third. Hunter Morales added to the lead in the fourth with an RBI single thanks to a wild throw by the Palm Harbor third baseman.

Rohsean Riley made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the fifth before a final run scored on a wild pitch from Mink in the sixth inning.

“We’ve already seen guys who throw 96 (mph) and others, so it’s not the first guy we’ve faced and our kids weren’t surprised by it,” Shafer said of Mink, who throws 88-90 mph. “That’s why I thought we had good at-bats off a good arm and I was pleased with that.”

Blue Devils starter Randy Pritchard wiggled out of an early bases-loaded jam in the second inning, getting Anthony Young to groundout to end the threat. It was the only trouble he had all day as he gave up just two hits over four shutout innings.

Pritchard is coming back from a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. He suffered the injury during football and Schafer said he isn’t quite back to where they would like him to be in terms of arm strength. Prichard agreed.

But even with his fastball down from the mid-80s to the low-80s, he found a way on Tuesday.

“I felt like I accomplished a lot, overcoming that,” he said. “Not much has changed but more I had to work a whole lot harder this year just to get back to where I was last year. To get even better, I have to work twice as hard.”

Bradenton Inspiration Academy beat Ridge Community 3-1 in the first game of the day at Jim Whitney Field. Kristen Martinez started on the mound for the Bolts. Ridge out-hit Inspiration 5-4 in defeat.

Lakeland Christian crushed Kingdom Prep 15-1 in the second game. The Vikings pounded out eight hits while Kingdom mustered just one.

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