Strawberry Crest 1, Wharton 0 (eight inning)
DOVER – When you’re the starting pitcher heading out to the mound to start the eighth inning, your main focus is getting your team back in the dugout. Strawberry Crest (9-2, 3-0 in 8A-District 4) junior righty Damien Torres let his defense do the work as he tossed just four pitches in the eighth, getting a pair of pop-ups and a groundout against Wharton.
“My whole thought-process was I need to get us in that dugout so we could hit and win this game,” Torres said.
His offense responded to him in the home half of the eighth as Joey Parillo reached to start the frame getting a hit to a tough spot of the infield, followed by a sac bunt and two walks to load the bases for sophomore Alex Marshall, who drove a sac fly to left allowing Parillo to slide into home before the throw.
“I’m just trying to get a ball in the air deep enough for (Parillo) to score,” Marshall said. “I saw my pitch right down the middle and I knew what to do with it.”
Wharton’s (6-4) half of the pitcher’s duel was spectacular as senior Austin Appel spun seven shutout innings striking out seven and allowing just three hits. The Wildcats started quickly as Drew Ehrhard (2-for-4) led off the first inning with a single, but was quickly erased on a double play turned by Chargers shortstop Ryan Dell right before Clayton Coringrato tripled to right field. The Wildcats reached third base four times, but couldn’t scratch out a run on the Crest defense. The win gave the Chargers a 1-game lead in the district over Wharton with one more regular season meeting scheduled for April 13 in New Tampa.
“Wharton is a tough team. Wharton is a good team,” Marshall said, “and we know it’s not over with them.”
Torres let his defense work behind him, striking out just two and scattering six hits.
“Honestly, I was just doing my best to keep us in the game,” Torres said. “I let my defense do it’s job, that’s all.”
He left Wharton runners in scoring position four times, while also playing his position well including fielding a pair of comebackers with the bases loaded in the sixth, recording an out at home. His battery mate Parillo also made a nice catch while at a full sprint on a foul ball in the fourth.
Christian Young had a pair of singles for the Chargers in the win.
Brandon 9, Lennard 1
Brandon (9-2, and 5-1 in 7A-District 9) completed the rare two-game sweep in a week of district opponent Lennard paced by a four-hit night by senior Teddy Flynn. Flynn, who was named the Jose Fernandez Passion for the Game honoree at last week’s 37th annual Saladino Tournament, finished with three RBI in the win. Junior righty BJ Carter improved to 3-0 on the season for Brandon.
Robinson 9, Jefferson 3
Robinson’s seniors did the heavy lifting as Kris Terry (double, RBI, two runs, two stolen bases), Killian McCray (two runs), Zack Moseley (run, RBI) and Luis Estevez (two RBI) each recorded two hits for the Knights. Austin Glasgow drove in three runs as well in the win, while senior Pete Feinman earned the win with 6 K’s and allowing one earned over four innings.
Plant 6, Gaither 4
Plant thwarted a late Gaither rally to take home the victory in this non-district battle of two of the better teams in the Bay. Mike Paleaz drove in a couple of runs for the Panthers early on as senior righthander Ethan Richards went six strong innings for the victory. Danny Gutcher and AJ Drisdom added runs in the 7th with sacrifice flies as part of a four-run inning to make it a game late.
Armwood 3, Tampa Bay Tech 2
Armwood (6-8) won its third straight defeating TBT in district play. Freshman Trevor Finan went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI, while juniors Antonio Gonzalez and Yadiel Cordova each drove in a run. Senior Gareth Johnson allowed two unearned runs on just one hit over seven innings, with four strikeouts.
Hillsborough 9, Leto 1
Terence Doston drove in four as Hillsborough (7-4) got a win over district opponent Leto giving the two teams a split in their regular season meetings. Hillsborough now sits atop the dogfight of a district that is 7A-8 (which also includes defending 7A state champs Gaither, King and Chamberlain) with a 4-2 district record. Aaron Jensen had three hits for the Terriers, while Matt Lutton earned the win.
Out-of-Door Academy 4, Cambridge Christian 1
The Lancers (8-3) dropped a tough one to Sarasota Out-of-Door despite a quality start from Austin Carter
Bloomingdale 5, East Bay 1
Senior Andrew Tubb (5 ip, 4 strikeouts) and junior Jesse Hunter (2 ip, 4 strikeouts) combined to allow just a hit each as Bloomingdale defeated East Bay at home Thursday. Seniors Nate Chevalier (RBI, run) and Julian Machado (run, two RBI) each doubled in the win for the Bulls. Junior Sean Roberts had a double for East Bay.
Durant 6, Riverview 3
Senior Jonah Scolaro hit a go-ahead grand slam to right-center in the Cougars 6-run, sixth innings and also had a double in the district win for Durant (6-5, 4-2 in 8A-District 6). Lefty Trey Brown earned the win in relief striking out 4, over three no-hit innings.
Steinbrenner 9, Sickles 5
After getting his first starting nod and recording two hits in his first game on Tuesday, sophomore Justin Turk stayed hot for the Warriors with a triple, a single and two RBI. Cam Coakley went 2-for-3 in the win, also adding two RBI, while CJ Van Eyk doubled in the win. Junior Huston Richter earned the win in relief tossing two shutout innings and striking out three.
King 6, Chamberlain 0
Seffner Christian 9, Sarasota Christian 3
Anna Wellen’s 4-for-4, two stolen base, three run scored game led the way for the Crusaders on Thursday. Rachel Seifert had a double and three RBI, while Cheyenne Wright (double, two RBI), Bailey Boyce and Madison Cates each had two hits in the win.
Leto 14, Hillsborough 4 (five innings)
Alyssa Rowe drove in three runs for the Falcons in a district win over Hillsborough. Britney Tirado and Nohely Santana each had a hit and two RBI as well, while Samantha Groves scored three runs.
Wharton 10, Strawberry Crest 2
The Wildcats fell behind a run in the fourth before storming back scoring 10 across the fifth and sixth inning. Senior Mackenzie Allen tripled and drove in three runs, while Emma Poole (three RBI) and Asia Thomas (triple, two RBI) each had three hits for the Wildcats.
Robinson 1, Jefferson 0
Cassidy Renninger tossed a no-hitter striking out six and walking a pair before Tara White (2-for-3) had a walk-off RBI single to lead the Knights over the Dragons.
Bloomingdale 5, East Bay 3
Lexie Chevalier had a two-run double to help the Bulls to a win over East Bay. Kayla Wilson went 3-for-3 with a run, while Brianna Quidgeon was 2-for-3 scoring twice in the win. Alexys Lawson (W, 9 strikeouts) and Julianna Hodges combined to strike out 17.
Alonso 7, Sarasota Riverview 1
Ravens senior Andrea Kopp had a home run and a double, while driving in a pair, while Erin Hale (two RBI) and Scarlett Montalvo each had two hits for Alonso. Junior Jodi Handler struck out nine, allowing one run on four hits.
Steinbrenner 1, Sickles 0
The win locks up the top seed in the three-team Class 8A-District 5 for the Warriors (12-1, 3-0 in district).
Gaither 10, Plant 3
Calvary Christian 11, Brooks DeBartolo 1 (six innings)
Brandon 11, Lennard 5
Durant 9, Riverview 3
A BIG THANKS as always to Jarrett Guthrie for his contributions to this article!!