TAMPA — Bloomingdale High baseball coach Kris Wilken said he was confident in the game plan he had for Tuesday’s Class 8A-Region 2 semifinal at Plant. And Bloomingdale followed that plan well, swinging early and taking advantage of mistakes.
“There were times where we fell behind and Plant did what Plant does and they hurt us,” Wilken said. “But our guys stuck to what we planned and stayed really aggressive.”
However, there was one part of the plan Wilken has come to count on — Logan Crouse. He proved the difference as he led the Bulls to a 5-3 win at Wade Boggs Field.
“If Crouse is on the mound, it’s simple — just sit down and watch Logan work,” Wilken said. “Tonight with the game on the line it came down to his spot in the lineup. If it comes to a spot where I can put one guy in there, to slow things down and get a great at-bat, he’s that guy.”
Crouse didn’t disappoint, taking over on the mound in the fifth as the Bulls held a one-run lead, weathered a Plant rally and belted an extra-inning, game-winning RBI double to left to lead Bloomingdale. With the game tied in the top of the eighth, Conrado Skepple led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before Crouse sent a ball off the wall in left field. Bloomingdale (19-9) added some insurance as on a Josh Mote single and Crouse worked around a pair of errors to shut the door for the win.
“I like being called clutch,” Crouse said. “When the pressure is on, I love finding a way to get it done.”
4A-3: Berkeley Prep ousts Tampa Catholic
TAMPA — After nearly four hours of baseball, Berkeley Prep sealed a trip to the Class 4A-Region 3 final in dramatic fashion, defeating Tampa Catholic, 5-4, in 11 innings.
With two runners on base and no outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, senior Dante Bosnic hit a single to left field to score Gordon Stetson, giving the Buccaneers the victory. It was only fitting that Bosnic, who started on the mound, earned the win.
The Brown University commit not only had the game-winning RBI, but in the bottom of the seventh inning he stole home with two outs when Tampa Catholic tried to pick off the runner at first base.
Casey Kellers was vital to Berkeley’s extra-inning battle, striking out six batters in four innings.
Tampa Catholic took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning when Tyler Lala scored on an error and Paulie Russo scored on an RBI single by Jordan Santos.
7A-2: Sickles stops Wiregrass Ranch
WESLEY CHAPEL — Xavier Rodriguez and his teammates wanted revenge.
“Last time we faced (Zach Drury), he no-hit us and we knew we could hit him,” Sickles’ senior captain and outfielder said. “We knew if we could get a couple runs, it would just take pitching and good defense to get the win.”
The Gryphons (19-7) got even more, not just from Rodriguez, but with a 7-1 7A-Region 2 semifinal victory against district rival Wiregrass Ranch (19-7), they’re in a region final for the first time since 1999.
Rodriguez was 1-for-2 with two walks, a two-run triple, three stolen bases and a great diving catch to rob Drury of a double in the seventh.
The Bulls, looking to make their second straight region final, scored on a Shane Haight balk that brought home Devin Duckett, but that would be Haight’s lone blemish. The senior threw a 93-pitch compete game, striking out eight, with no walks, four hits and a hit batter.
6A-3: King’s Checkley keeps Osceola in check
SEMINOLE — Tyeler Checkley gave up one earned run in five innings and King took advantage of several miscues by Osceola to win a Class 6A-Region 3 semifinal, 10-3.
With the score 1-0, the Lions added two more on a throwing error. Jose Lopez’s RBI single pushed the lead to 5-0 in the fourth.
Checkley, meanwhile, was cruising. He retired the side in order in the third with two strikeouts. The Warriors’ first hit of the game didn’t come until the fourth inning when Mike Kleinman hit an RBI double to make it 5-1.
5A-2: Sunlake shuts out Pasco, 3-0
LAND O’ LAKES — Sunlake received a superb pitching performance from David Castillo en route to a 3-0 victory against Pasco (17-11) in a Class 5A-Region 2 semifinal.
“I was just trying to go fastball and then mix in a curveball or changeup at (Pasco),” Castillo said. “They have a deep lineup. We fought and fought and came away with a win. We got hot at the right time and anything is possible.”
For nearly six innings, neither team was able to break through. Pasco starter Malik Johns was able to get out of a couple jams, but never seemed to face a real threat until the bottom of the sixth.
Sunlake (19-9) loaded the bases for Omar Cala and a Pasco error proved costly, scoring Castillo and Colton King to put the Seahawks up 2-0. The next batter, Zac Scranton, put down a squeeze bunt to score Zac Howard.
That’s all Castillo would need as he allowed three hits and struck out six.
5A-3: Jesuit blanks Robinson, 4-0
TAMPA — Sophomore left-hander Michael Sandborn scattered three hits over six innings, leading Jesuit to a 4-0 win against Robinson in a Class 5A-Region 3 semifinal.
Among the offensive highlights was the speed of Nick Perillo, who never picked up a bat. The sophomore stole two bases and scored twice as a courtesy runner for catcher Ryan McCullers, who had three singles for Jesuit (22-6).
“Nick is a dynamic player. He goes hard with every opportunity he gets,” Tigers coach Richie Warren said. “He’s a treat to watch.”
Robinson (10-16) was not as opportunistic. The Knights were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and ended their season with the bases loaded.
In that seventh, reliever Joe Epstein replaced Sandborn after a leadoff walk. Despite two walks of his own, the right-hander preserved the shutout.
“We’re very excited,” Epstein said. “We think we have a chance to win the state championship.”
3A-2: Ransom pitches Tampa Prep to victory
SPRING HILL — Just two weeks after a frustrating loss to Bishop McLaughlin in the Class 3A-District 7 championship, Tampa Prep took out its frustrations Tuesday with an 8-3 win at Bishop McLaughlin.
Tampa Prep got an RBI single by Matt Fulton for a 1-0 lead in the second. Matt Hodges ripped a single that scored two, and then Nick Detringo was able to score on a throwing error, making it 4-0.
A Holden Bridge two-run single made it 6-0 in the fourth, and the Terrapins cruised from there, thanks to the workhorse effort of starting pitcher Watson Ransom.
Ransom scattered six hits over seven innings for Tampa Prep to avenge a loss in the district final game.
“The district final game really motivated me.” Ransom said. “Even though we lost, I had a lot of confidence coming into this game.”
2A-2: Walk-off double propels Bayshore Christian
TAMPA — Bayshore Christian (11-4) rallied from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh, defeating Cambridge Christian 6-5 on a walk-off, two-run double by junior Jordan Martin that scored Johnathan Gonzalez and Evan Holland.
The Faith Warriors loaded the bases with one out, trailing 5-3. Evan Courtney then drew a walk to make it 5-4, setting up Martin’s heroics.
“I wanted that moment,” Martin said. “I believed I was going to have a chance (when the inning started).”