Zephyrhills Free Press

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Jaxson Rivera rips clutch home run to rally Bulldogs past Discovery

Zephyrhills junior pitcher Jaxson Rivera walked off the mound frustrated after giving up a home run to in Friday’s matchup against Discovery High School, but he got it back two innings later when he hit his first career high school home run over the left field fence to help lead the Bulldogs to an 8-7 win.

The Bulldogs rallied after falling behind 6-1 thanks to clutch hitting and strong relief pitching by sophomore Austin Dobbins. Dobbins pitched four innings in relief, had a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs.

 With the score knotted at 6-6 in the sixth inning, the Spartans jumped ahead 7-6 before Rivera tied the game with one swing of the bat. The lead-off hitter was grinning from ear to ear as he rounded third in his home run trot. He was greeted by his teammates at the plate in celebration.

“It was the best feeling ever,” Rivera said as he watched the ball sail into the darkness. “I have never hit a home run so I never knew what it was like. I’ve been practicing hitting line drives.”

His first home run had an additional reward when he got back to the dugout with a huge hug from his baby brother Lennox.

“He always wants me to hit home runs so it was probably his best feeling too,” Rivera said of his little brother’s reaction. “He’s always telling me to hit a home run.”  

Later that inning, Bryan Santiago hit a shallow flyball to right center that was misplayed scoring Micah Berrien for the game-winning run.

“We’ll be better in a couple of weeks,” said Zephyrhills coach Rusty Guynn. “Jaxson swings the bat real well. He has gotten a lot better and a lot stronger in the weight room. He’s very important to us at the top of the order. He does a good job there.”

Dobbins pitched out of a jam in the top of the seventh with a runner at third to get the win.

“Dobbs is going to help us a lot,” Guynn said of his young right-hander. “He’s going to be a mainstay for us. He’s only a sophomore and works around problems and stays pretty composed. He’ll be fine.”

In the Bulldogs last five games, each were decided by two runs. Zephyrhills picked up wins against Discovery and Mulberry, but fell to Wiregrass, South Sumter and All Saints Academy.

Zephyrhills improved to 5-9 on the season with five games remaining.

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