BAKER — It didn't take Crestview pitcher Roman Donofro long to warm up on Friday on chilly February night as the Bulldogs took on Baker in the 2013 season opener baseball game.
Donofro was almost perfect in four innings of work as he struck out 10 Gator batters and allowed just one hit and one walk as Crestview rolled to an 11-2 win.
Donofro wasn't alone in his impressive early season performance on the mound. Gator starting pitcher Alan Weidenhammer worked 4 1/3 innings and allowed just four hits and three runs, one of which was unearned.
Bulldog coach Tim Gillis couldn't have been happier with Donofro's performance and was equally impressed with the job first-year Gator coach Scott Johnson has done.
"Roman really threw well," Gillis said. "We had him on a pitch count and he got to that count quick.
I tell you what, you can obviously see Scott's finger prints on this team. He's done a great job of getting them prepared to play. It was a fight."
It took a while for the Crestview (1-0) offense to get untracked as the Bulldogs had just two hits, a Hunter Willis single and a Seth Thomason double through the first four innings.
The last three innings were another story as Crestview batters delivered nine hits and scored all 11 of their runs.
Donofro showed that he wasn't just a one-trick Bulldog as he had three hits to lead the Crestview attack.
The Bulldogs broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth inning as they struck for three runs.
Donofro singled to start the inning and courtesy runner, P.J. Grainger, who was running for Donofro, stole second base. A scorching grounder up the middle off the bat of Justin Rebholz scored Grainger.
Rebholz scored as Tyler Henderson reached on a Gator error and Henderson scored on another Baker fielding miscue.
Baker (0-1) responded in the home half of the fifth with a run off of Crestview relief pitcher Davis Champion.
Champion retired the first two batters he faced with no trouble, before hitting a streak of bad luck that started with a walk to Josh Long and ended with long scoring on the only Bulldog error of the night after Taylor Carlisle reached on an infield hit for the Gators.
The game was still close with the score 3-1 after the fifth inning, but Crestview broke things open in the final two innings scoring eight runs on seven hits.
Hendersonhad a pair of hits, one a double, and drove in two runs in the last two innings. Dakota Dean had a sacrifice fly that scored a run in the sixth and a two-run single in the seventh.
Thomason continued his big night with a two-run single in the sixth as well as the Bulldog bats came alive.
Crestview freshman Corey Armstrong gave the Bulldog faithful a glimpse of the future when he singled in his first high school at bat in the seventh inning.
The Gators managed a run in the seventh when Cody Nixon had a one-out single against Dean, who was in relief of Champion. Dean then hit a wild streak walking three of the next four batters to score Nixon.
Johnson knew his Class 1A Gators would have their hands full with the 6A Bulldogs, but he was pleased with what he saw from his team.
"We told them to start with that this is the best team we will play all year," he said. "The reason we try to play them (Crestview) is Tim does a great job and he has been around longer than anybody in the county.
"But the kids played great, they played hard and I've got a bunch of good kids and I'm happy to coach them."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524