It was only a pair of preseason games, but the Key West High baseball team, perhaps inspired by the biggest crowds in years at Rex Weech Field, looked last weekend like the Murderers' Row of the 1927 New York Yankees.
The Conchs, who rarely hit long balls last season, slammed two home runs in each game as they defeated a weak Somerset team, 21-0, on Friday night, and then came back to down Miami Southridge, a team with a strong baseball pedigree, 8-3, on Saturday night.
After opening ceremonies Friday night that included the Miami Marlins' mascot and a horde of Little Conch players that swelled the crowd to near capacity, the Conchs got, among their 16 hits, three-run homers from Steven Wells and Darren Miller.
Then against Southridge, the Conchs scored all of their eight runs in a first inning highlighted by another three-run homer by Wells and one with a man on by Hugo Valdes.
"The kids hit the ball well," said Ralph Henriquez, who coached his first Conch game since 2005. "They are getting stronger and our drills are creating more bat speed."
The pitching was as impressive as the hitting.
Looming high above the mound, 6-foot-5 Brandon Presley pitched three perfect innings Friday and Wells pitched one. (The game was called in the middle of the fourth because of the 10-run mercy rule.)
"He looked like a pitcher out there," Henriquez said of Presley, who threw harder than he did last season as a sophomore.
Against Southridge, Gregory Veliz struck out eight batters in four innings. "He was dominant, throwing very hard," Henriquez said, adding that the speed of the sophomore's pitches ranged from 92 to 94 mph.
Miller finished the game for the Conchs on the mound before leaving with a strained forearm, an injury Henriquez said didn't seem serious.
Key West will open the regular season with 7:30 p.m. home games Friday and Saturday against Rockledge. "They're a good club, so we'll find out how good we are," Henriquez said.
He was as pleased with his team's demeanor as he was with its skills on the field. "My players acted the way they're supposed to act," he said. "They communicated in the dugout, and I saw leadership from the older players, talking baseball with the younger ones. It was a baseball environment."