ORMOND BEACH — During the fall, about six or seven Matanzas baseball players were working on their delivery.
Not their delivery on the baseball diamond, though. Instead, they were competing as part of the Pirates’ bowling team.
Matanzas baseball coach Rob Roe said having those players on the same team during bowling has helped build team chemistry.
And that improved chemistry has led Matanzas to a 4-1 start this season.
“It’s actually kind of nice,” Roe said. “The kids hang out together; they don’t down each other. They’re just together.”
Last season, the Pirates' start was much different, going 1-5 through the first six games.
Despite a rally in the top of the seventh inning Tuesday night in a district game against Seabreeze, the Pirates suffered their first loss of the season, falling to the Sandcrabs, 2-1.
Seabreeze (3-5) got on the board in the bottom of the second inning when Jeremiah Wilson, who transferred from Matanzas earlier this year, reached on an error. He later scored when he attempted to steal second base and the throw to second went to nobody. Wilson broke for home and slid in without a throw.
From there, starting pitchers Tyler Stuart (Matanzas) and Zach Ballas (Seabreeze) were locked into a duel.
Matanzas (4-1) rallied in the top of the seventh inning, though. Braeden Ward got on first base after he hit a chopper into the ground. Ballas fielded the ball but threw it past the first baseman. Ward ended up on second. With a pinch runner at second and one out, Robert Bell smoked a double to left, plating the tying run.
Ballas was able to get out of the inning with a line-out and a strikeout to give the Sandcrabs a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh.
And that’s exactly what Seabreeze did.
Pontious got on with a walk and made it to second base. He scored the winning run on Wigley’s game-winning hit to left field.
Stuart (0-1) has pitched well, Roe said, but has suffered two no decisions. In 19 innings pitched, Stuart has racked up 27 strikeouts and issued nine walks. He has surrendered 11 hits.
Bell went 1-for-3 on Tuesday with the game-tying RBI double. Ward went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Seabreeze and Matanzas are scheduled to play again on Wednesday night, at Matanzas. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. (The game was originally scheduled for Thurdsay, but it was moved up a day because of the weather forecast.)