Prep baseball: Things fall apart for TC in fifth
FORT MYERS -
Tampa Catholic didn't have a lot of problems this season, but if you had to pick one it might be that too often it gave up the big inning.
And then — being a young team with only two starting seniors — the Crusaders seemed to have trouble bouncing back.
The same scenario pretty much held true in Friday night's Class 4A-Region 2 final at Fort Myers Bishop Verot, where the Crusaders ended their season with an 8-2 loss.
The big inning? That came in the bottom of the fourth when Bishop Verot scored five runs on five hits, a hit batsman and an error. TC held a 2-1 lead after scoring two in the top of the fourth.
When it held the lead TC (18-12) pumped its fists and howled. When the Crusaders lost the lead, they were much quieter.
“I can almost guarantee that if we had a shutdown inning in the bottom of the fourth then you'd be talking to a winning coach right now,” TC coach Ty Griffin said. “When we got up 2-1 (Verot) looked a little tight and they got a lot more quiet. We had the momentum.”
Once it regained its lead, Verot (24-5) seemed to gain a tremendous amount of steam with its ace, Jeff Passantino, on the mound. In the end, Passantino (11-1, sub-1.00 ERA) earned the complete-game victory while TC went through four pitchers, who combined to give up 15 hits.
TC starter Clayton Smith, a junior, hung tough for the better part of three innings, working himself out of a couple of jams. But when he gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the fourth and hit the next batter, Griffin turned to the bullpen.
“The good news is that (all but one of the TC pitchers who threw on Friday) are underclassmen and got some good experience in this situation,” Griffin said. “We'll get stronger from this.”