Armwood makes errors hurt, Corns delivers vs Terriers

Although he didn’t feel he had his best stuff, Armwood senior Tyler Corns came within an out of a complete game victory, scattering six hits and allowing one earned run. 

By Chuck Frye, Senior Staff Writer

TAMPA – When a team has small roster numbers, issues can magnify.

Take Hillsborough High’s district clash against visiting Armwood on Tuesday. In the bottom of the very first inning, senior shortstop Kyler Martin fell awkwardly on a tag attempt at first base and injured his left shoulder, removing the Terriers’ top hitter from the lineup. And as is commonly the case, the substitute became a baseball magnet on defense, suffering miscues that Armwood was able to seize upon just enough to come away with a 3-2 victory.

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“(Starting pitcher Aiden) Morales is our starting shortstop and he’s been dealing,” Hillsborough head coach Bryan Burgess explained. “Kyler was going to play short (Tuesday) and (his substitute) was going to come on in relief.”

Armwood rightfielder Javier Suniaga glides in to catch a Ryan Arroyo fly ball and end the bottom of the first inning.

But an injury can scuttle the best-laid plans for a team with a 16-man roster and the Hawks, as has been their MO this season, managed to take advantage.

“It’s kind of how it’s been all year for us,” said Hawks rookie head coach Shawn Queen. “We take advantage of other teams giving us an opportunity, and then pitching and defense comes on and finds a way to keep us in it.”

Such was the case for Armwood (11-5, 4-0 in Class 6A-9 play), jumping on a pair of two-out opportunities to create just enough separation for victory.

Hillsborough’s Adriano Parral throws to first but Armwood DH Christian Lallave-Segui (foreground) hustles to reach in second-inning play.

In the second inning, DH Christian Lallave-Segui reached on an error and stole second, setting the stage for freshman Javier Suniaga to loop a liner just inside the leftfield chalk for a run-scoring double.

Then in the fifth with two down, junior leadoff man Theodric Hicks singled, sophomore Rhys Brush reached on an error, and senior Reem Jackson was hit by a pitch to load the sacks. A second shot at a potential inning-ending grounder followed, but the toss to second base for a force flew high and wide, scoring Hicks, then a balk plated Brush with a crucial insurance run.

Hawks’ Christian Lallave-Segui beats Terrier second baseman Daniel Pena’s tag for a second-inning stolen base.

And as snakebit as the Terrier defense was, the offense struggled to produce in clutch situations. Over the course of the game, Hillsborough (8-10, 0-2 in 6A-9) moved 10 runners into scoring position but could only convert twice.

Morales (three hits) was involved in both tallies, leading off the third with a double and advancing to score on two ground outs, then reaching in the seventh on a one-out base hit and hustling all the way home on an outfield error.

Hillsborough third baseman Ryan Arroyo (right) looks in vain for a call after Armwood’s Javier Suniaga steals the bag in the second inning.

On every other opportunity, Armwood starter Tyler Corns stood and delivered.

The 6-foot-4 senior didn’t author a single 1-2-3 inning but fought his way out of several jams. Two-on, one-out rallies in the first and second inning were crushed by three strikeouts and a fly out. A second-and-third situation in the sixth frame also ended with a K as did the fourth when the Terriers got a runner to third with two down.

Armwood starting pitcher Tyler Corns flexes as he comes off the mound after he ends Hillsborough’s second-and-third, sixth-inning threat with a strikeout.

Corns finished one out shy of a complete game, scattering six hits and walking two.

“I just knew they were a good hitting team so I had to pound the zone,” said Corns, who also pitched in an early-season win over Hillsborough. “Throw it hard and especially hit my spots, which I could have done better (Tuesday), I will say that. I always try to come clutch at the end, be big.”

After tagging third base for a force out, Armwood’s Reem Jackson throws to first but just misses turning a first-inning double play.

After the error allowed the Terriers’ seventh-inning run and forced Corns from the game, sophomore Zalen Hicks induced a fly ball to first to end the game and earn the save.

“We’re begging right now, we’re in a funk,” Burgess said.

“Selfish at-bats where we lacked the big hit … there’s innings where we had runners on and a chance to do something,” Burgess continued. “Then we make an error and the other team seems to make it hurt.

Hillsborough starting pitcher Aiden Morales impressed, yielding no earned runs and three hits over his five-inning stint while striking out nine, walking one and hitting one batter.

“We’re pitching great, our pitching has been outstanding (including Morales’ five-inning, no-earned-run effort with nine Ks), but you would think that with eight seniors on this team that there would be better leadership. (The coaches) wear everything on their sleeves, we care what our record is, and the kids … they get over (losses) quicker than we do, let’s put it that way.”

Hillsborough reliever Antonio Davis had only one Armwood runner reach base – on an error – in his two innings of work.

After losing four of its last five games by a total of five runs, Hillsborough will look to get back in the win column on Thursday when it sends Martin to the hill at Leto.

Armwood won’t return to action until Tuesday when it travels to Middleton.

Hillsborough head coach Bryan Burgess and captain Aiden Morales meet with Armwood head coach Shawn Queen and co-captain Tyler Corns along with the umpires to go over ground rules for Tuesday’s game.

Armwood 3, Hillsborough 2

A 010|020|0 – |3|4|3
H 001|000|1 – |2|6|3
W – Corns (4-2); L – Davis; S – Z. Hicks (1)
2B – Suniaga (A); Morales (H). Records – A (11-5); H (8-10).

Armwood first baseman Owen Leever flags down Ryan Arroyo’s foul popup for the final out in the Hawks’ 3-2 victory over Hillsborough.