Not one, not two, but five home runs by the Destin Marlins secured a 9-2 win over St. Mary's in the middle school baseball Wednesday afternoon at Regatta Bay.
Eighth grader Jason Shirley slapped three out of the park, while Chandler Carlyle connected for his second homer of the season and sixth-grader Nolan Berry got his first home-run knock of the season.
Shirley, who had eight pitches in four times at bat, clobbered a fast ball for the first homer, then a curve for No. 2 and then another fast ball.
As for Carlyle and Berry, it was fastball all the way.
"We finally decided to buy into what Coach McDaniel wants them to do," said Destin Coach Brian McDaniel. "Hit fast balls instead of taking and trying to hit the breaking ball.
"The guys that finally decided I'm going to do what coach says hit a few out of the park, and that's good," McDaniel added.
Besides the home runs, McDaniel was impressed with the pitching.
"I thought what stood out most was Chandler throwing strikes the first four innings," he said. "He did a good job and that always sets the tone."
Carlyle pitched the first four innings, striking out four and giving up two hits. Shirley came in as relief and threw three innings, with six strikeouts and one hit.
"We did a good job defensively and we pitched well," McDaniel said.
In the first inning, Destin scored two runs. Matt Boswell singled and moved around on a bunt sacrifice by Noah Bailey. Carlyle was hit by a pitch. Both runners scored on a triple deep to right by Nick Sherer.
Destin picked up two more runs in the third on back-to-back homers by Shirley and Carlyle.
In the top of the fourth, St. Mary's scored one on a hit and a wild pitch.
The Marlins answered in the bottom half with two more runs. Boswell reached on an error and scored on Shirley's second home-run rip over the centerfield fence.
In the fifth, Berry blasted a solo shot over the left center field fence for a 7-1 game.
"The sixth grader stays hot and hits another one hard," McDaniel said. "Nolan did a good job."
St. Mary's picked up one last run in the sixth on a hit and an error.
Shirley smacked his final home run shot in the bottom of the sixth. With a runner on base, Shirley belted the first pitch, a fastball, over the centerfield fence for a 9-2 finish.
Up next for Destin is a 4 p.m. game at home Monday against the Ruckel Rams.
"They are a very talented," McDaniel said. "Hands down they are the gold standard in this league. I'm hoping we play well."
McDaniel plans to start Matt Boswell on the mound.
"He's been good this year," he said. "We've got to understand they are going to hit the ball hard, and we're going to have to deal with it.
"It's a big game. I hope everybody comes out and supports it," he said.