SARASOTA — It was the gutsiest performance Bloomingdale High baseball coach Kris Wilken said he’d seen from a Bulls team in his seven years with the program.
In a game that saw four lead changes and two ties, Bloomingdale pulled off a thrilling 6-5 come-from-behind win against Sarasota Riverview in the Class 8A-Region 2 quarterfinals Thursday.
Trailing by a run in the top of the seventh inning, junior Logan Crouse belted a triple to score Josh Mote, and scored the go-ahead run on the next at-bat when Cody Wilson laid down a squeeze bunt. In the bottom of the inning, Crouse, who went the distance on the mound, forced two pop flies and ended the game with his seventh strikeout of the evening.
“It was pure heart,” Crouse said. “It was the end of our season and we had to decide if we wanted to keep playing or not. We gave it our all and we came through.”
The Rams led 4-1 entering the top of the sixth inning when Bloomingdale (18-9) loaded the bases with no outs. The Bulls tied the game on three straight RBI singles by Wilson, Daylon Owens and Nate Chevalier. Riverview regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Bloomingdale throwing error, the Bulls’ third error of the night.
“I’m more proud of them than any win we’ve had this year for that one right there because we did not play well and to keep battling, that showed something right there,” Wilken said.
8A-2: Plant rolls past St. Petersburg
TAMPA — When Plant junior Kyle Tucker stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth, the Panthers were already in command of the Class 8A-Region 2 quarterfinal against St. Petersburg. However, with a three-ball count, Tucker turned on a fastball in, and sealed the Panthers’ 10-0, six-inning win with a three-run homer to right field. After the game, Tucker said he didn’t expect to have a chance to swing with an open base.
“(Plant) coach (Dennis Braun) gave me the green light, I don’t know,” Tucker said of his county-leading ninth home run.
“I thought he got under it a little bit,” said Braun, jokingly. “He’s been that guy for us for two years, and he’s going to continue to be that guy.”
Plant got things going in the fourth inning. Catcher Ryan Ellis had an RBI double, followed immediately by Matt Vaka plating a run with a double of his own to the center field wall. From there, Plant never looked back as Jake Woodford turned it on, striking out six in the game’s final three innings to earn his 10th win of the season.
“I starter off a little rough, but after we scored a couple of runs I really started to settle in,” Woodford said. “From there all I had to do is trust my defense, I knew they’d make the plays.”
Cooper Dickens added an RBI double in the Panthers’ six-run sixth. The Panthers had hits from seven batters in the win.
6A-3: King holds off Mitchell
TRINITY — King coach Jim Macaluso said the team practices the play once every 10 years.
“You never see it happen at the high-school level,” the longtime Lions coach said. “You may practice it, but you just hope it works out when they try to turn it.”
King (21-6) used a 5-2-3 double play to eliminate one of Mitchell’s (17-11) threats and hold on for a 4-2 Class 6A-Region 3 quarterfinal win to beat the same team it defeated in 2013 to advance to the state tournament.
“I always said that if we pitch and play good defense, then score three to four runs, we’ll be OK,” Macaluso said. “And good defense got us out of here tonight.”
Behind 61⁄3 innings from starter Tyeler Checkly (9-1), who gave up nine hits and struck out four, the Lions turned the double play in the sixth. With the bases loaded, Mitchell’s Alex Mendez grounded to Bubby Terp at third, who threw it to Jose Lopez at home and Lopez got it to Kobe Barnum at first.
“I knew right away that, when it was hit, I was filled with confidence,” Lopez, the catcher, said, “and that I would get my mask off, catch it, step on home and get it to first. We practice getting outs at home a lot, so I wasn’t worried. Maybe not that double play, but we do make sure we get outs at home.”
Terp led off the scoring with a solo shot to left field on an 0-1 count in the top of the first. Terp hit his fifth home run this season off FSU commit and nationally ranked prospect Cobi Johnson (3-2), who gave up the first homer allowed by Mitchell this season.
The Mustangs tied the game in the bottom of that inning when Kyle Frick drove home Mike Freeman.
King took the lead for good in the sixth with three runs, including an RBI triple by Lopez and a run-scoring double by Michael Taylor.
4A-3: TC scores early to defeat Avon Park
AVON PARK — Tampa Catholic utilized solid pitching from AJ Chacon and timely hitting to post a 5-1 win against Avon Park in the Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinals at Charles R. Head Field.
Tampa Catholic (17-9), which banged out nine hits, took the lead in the top of the first inning on a double by Jordan Santos, a sacrifice bunt and an Avon Park fielding error. The Crusaders added a pair of runs in the third inning off Avon Park right-hander Daniel Simons on an RBI single by Paul Russo and a fielder’s choice groundout. That was more than enough support for Chacon as the left-hander scattered four hits in his six innings.
Tampa Catholic tacked on a run in the fourth inning on a hit batter, a stolen base and a Red Devil throwing error to take a 4-0 lead.
Mark Pinson, Highlands Today
4A-3: Berkeley Prep shuts out McKeel
TAMPA — Berkeley Prep wanted to make sure there was no doubt it would meet rival Tampa Catholic for a fourth time this season. The Buccaneers used pitchers Dante Bosnic and Casey Keller to shut out Lakeland McKeel Academy 7-0 in a Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
“Dante (Bosnic) and Casey (Keller) have been pitching like that all year and we played some good defense behind them,” Berkeley Prep coach Justin Houston said. “I know Bobby Albers made some great plays over at third.”
Berkeley Prep (16-12) wasted little time gaining the advantage, as Danny Brackman doubled in the first inning and would later score on a hit by Nicholas Kavouklis. The Buccaneers’ big inning came in the bottom of the third, when Albers lined a shot over second base, which resulted in three runs coming in and giving Berkeley Prep a 5-0 lead.
That’s all Bosnic would need against the Wildcats (11-17), as the senior struck out four and allowed two hits during his five innings. Keller worked the final two innings, striking out two.
2A-2: Bayshore Chr. wins first region game
TAMPA — Evan Holland threw a complete game and Jordan Martin had two hits, two RBIs and two runs to lead Bayshore Christian to its first win in a region playoff game, 12-4 against Lakeside Christian.
“It means a lot. It’s a different atmosphere here now,” said Faith Warriors first-year coach Corey Thomas. “It’s about getting the players to push themselves harder.”
Bayshore Christian (10-4) staged a two-out rally in the fifth, overcoming a 3-1 deficit by scoring five runs, all with two outs. The key hit was a looping single by Martin with the bases loaded, which plated three runs.
That chased Lakeside (14-10) starter Christian Michener from the game. The lefty had been in line for the win after hitting a two-run homer in the third to give his team the lead. He later added an RBI double.
The Faith Warriors piled on runs against the Lakeside bullpen, including a six-run sixth. It was plenty of support for Holland, who scattered seven hits and struck out seven in a 102-pitch gem.
“It’s a big relief,” Holland said, “because we had never won a regional game.”
Bayshore shortstop Conner Brown also had two hits and two RBIs, and robbed two Lakeside hitters with excellent defense.
2A-2: Cambridge Chr. ousts Canterbury
ST. PETERSBURG — Cambridge Christian broke open a tie game late en route to a 7-1 victory in the Class 2A-Region 2 quarterfinals. The Lancers scored two in the sixth and four in the seventh.
Cambridge Chr. will play at Bayshore Chr. in the region semifinals. The Lancers are 1-2 against Bayshore Christian this season, including an 8-7 loss in the district final.
6A-3: Osceola rallies past Jefferson, 7-3
TAMPA — Osceola scored five unearned runs in the fourth inning to take control of Thursday night’s Class 6A region quarterfinal at Jefferson, then held on to win 7-3.
A two-out, bases-empty error was the spark the Warriors needed to flip a 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 advantage. Osceola strung together four run-scoring hits during the frame, including Jaret Helinger’s triple after Jordan Norman relieved starter Jonathon Diaz.
Warriors starting pitcher Keith Weisenberg, a Stanford commit, battled through six walks, a hit batter, three wild pitches and two throwing errors to first to earn the complete-game victory. The senior finished with 10 strikeouts after fanning the final three Dragons he faced.
“I think I was pressing a little bit at first,” Weisenberg said. “But once my team came up and gave me those runs I knew I could just settle down and go with what was working.”
Jefferson controlled the first three innings, jumping on Weisenberg for two first-inning runs. The Dragons produced three hits during the frame, but only one more the rest of the night.
Osceola’s Mike Kleinman and Jefferson’s Nelson Maldonado drove in two runs each.
The Warriors now host Tuesday’s region semifinal against King High, a rematch from the same round last year when the Lions beat Osceola 12-0.
Eric Horchy, Suncoast News