FLORENCE — For Florence lefty Logan Hallmark there is nothing like a Saturday matinee.
He knew he had something going during his warm-up session in the bullpen and it didn’t take long for the Rosebud-Lott Cougars to find out the same.
Hallmark was one out away from a five-inning no-hitter while striking out four Cougars as the Buffaloes stampeded the Cougars 14-0 on Saturday.
“You wake up, you know you’re going to go straight to a baseball game,” Hallmark said. “You have all morning to prepare for it. I think everybody has more energy for a Saturday game.”
The victory is Florence’s first in District 22-2A play and broke the Buffaloes (6-6-1, 1-3) three-game losing streak. The game ended after 4½ innings because of the 10-run rule.
Hallmark was perfect through three innings and had his no-hitter broken up when Cougar outfielder Evan Randazzo hit a single to center with the bases empty and two outs in the top of the fifth.
The Buffalo defense made a fine play to end the game.
After Chris Bravo doubled to the left-field fence, Randazzo was on his way home. Florence left fielder Derek Whoolery hit shortstop Peyton Person for the relay throw and Person threw a dart to catcher Dallas Broekhuizen who tagged out Randazzo at the plate.
“We’re never going to relax on defense, ever,” Florence head coach Ronny Allen said. “We take pride in that kind of stuff.”
Allen said that was the third time the Buffalos have recorded an out at home plate this year. Allen said the one area of the team that doesn’t let down is the defense.
The offense didn’t do too bad either, lighting up Cougar starter Chance Pitts for 12 earned runs on 14 hits after the Buffaloes got used to his knuckleballs.
“After the first inning, we stayed back on it and we hit the ball well,” Hallmark said.
Person led the Buffalos at the plate going 3 for 4 with an RBI while Tate Leatherwood went 2 for 3 with two RBIs. The trio of Luke McNeil, Grayson Decker and Broekhuizen combined to hit .600 (6 for 10) with three RBIs and four runs scored.
Florence took control of the game by putting up eight runs in the home half of the second on six hits and sending 12 batters to the plate.
Buffaloes freshman outfielder Zach Pluhar got the scoring going by reaching on an infield error that scored Decker and fellow freshman Tyler Heine to make it 2-0 Florence.
Leatherwood followed Pluhar in the lineup and doubled the Buffaloes lead with a shot to center.
“I just think we felt comfortable,” Leatherwood said. “We were feeling it today. We have a really good batting lineup this year. We just came out of our shells today and hit really well.”
The Buffaloes sprayed the ball around in the inning: McNeil had an RBI double to center, Hallmark an RBI single to right and Decker an RBI single to left.
Person capped the scoring in the game with an RBI double to left that plated Whoolery in the bottom of the fourth. That was all the run support Hallmark needed.
The Cougars were able to load the bases at one point after an infield error, fielder’s choice and passed ball on a swinging third strike. But Hallmark got Cougars infielder Kyle Willberg to fly out to Pluhar at center field to end the threat.
“I was just thinking about throwing him something to hit,” Hallmark said. “I can trust my defense behind me.”
Florence looks for district win No. 2 on Tuesday when it visits Jarrell.
“It’s a big thing getting our first district win,” Allen said. “We talked about it earlier in the season that it’s important to win for confidence sake. This is a confidence builder.”
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