LUTZ The numbers were one-sided. The writing, practically, on the wall. The Wiregrass Ranch High baseball team knew Steinbrenner had owned the series all season.
“I didn’t have to remind them what they’d done to us — they knew, they, we all did — wanted this to be Steinbrenner,” Bulls coach Jeff Swymer said. “We did it, and man, it feels good.”
Swymer and his young team are feeling good because they shut down district foe and nationally ranked Steinbrenner 4-0 Tuesday in a Class 7A-Region 3 semifinal to advance to a region final for the first time.
Junior starting pitcher Zach Drury threw a complete-game shutout, allowing just two hits while walking four and striking out five in 102 pitches.
“What a roller coaster we’ve been on with this kid,” Swymer said of his ace, who improved to 8-5. “He was shaky in the district semifinals, but I challenged it and he had to earn it back.”
Drury would work out of three jams, including in the third and fourth innings when he would strand two Warriors base runners each time. And in the sixth, Steinbrenner (22-3) loaded the bases with one out, but Drury got Chase Turner to hit into an infield pop and Danny Rodriguez into a grounder to the pitcher.
That performance spoke volumes since Steinbrenner had already beaten Wiregrass three times this season by a combined score of 20-1.
“(Steinbrenner) was probably expecting us to roll over and not play and we didn’t do that,” Swymer said.
Warriors starter Gideon Dunn (9-1) lasted 41/3 innings and allowed two runs to suffer his first lost of the season. The Bulls (20-9) got runs thanks to an RBI double by Michael Campoamor, an RBI single by Shane Bucenell, a sacrifice fly by Austin Drury and an RBI single by Ryan Girard.
8A-2: Danish whiffs 14 in leading Durant TARPON SPRINGS Durant will play in a region final for just the third time in school history largely on the arm of pitcher Tyler Danish, who dominated East Lake for a 3-0 Class 8A-Region 2 semifinal win.
Danish (13-1) tossed a complete-game two-hitter, fanning 14 East Lake batters while relying on his nasty slider. Eagles batters, aside from Doug Rovello’s two hits, never could figure Danish out.
“He’s the best pitcher I’ve coached against,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said. “I will personally hand him his diploma so I never have to see him on a mound again, unless he’s pitching for the Rays.”
Garrett Wright scored on an infield error in the top of the fifth for the only run Danish and Durant would need.
“My slider has been my out pitch all year and the way it was working,” Danish said, “they were struggling with the sliders early.”
6A-3: Big fifth inning keys King to 12-0 win SEMINOLE King rolled into Osceola and then waited until the fifth inning to get fully revved up in its Class 6A-Region 3 semifinal Tuesday night.
Then the Lions ran flat over the Warriors, scoring 11 runs on 10 hits before cruising away with a 12-0, mercy-rule, fifth-inning victory.
Before the unleashing in the fifth, King (24-3) had hit the ball hard but often at defenders and held a 1-0 lead on just three hits.
“I leaned over to (an assistant coach in the fourth inning) and said, ‘Is this going to be one of those games?’” King coach Jim Macaluso said. “(The assistant) said, ‘No, the balls are going to start dropping in.’ Thankfully, he was right.”
King, however, also had a certain level of comfort because Lions starter Brandon Caples was throwing well and appeared to get stronger as the game went on. Caples ended up earning the complete-game victory, allowing just one hit while walking one and striking out four.
“I was a little excited at first but I settled in and started hitting my spots,” said Caples, who improved to 9-0. “I felt good.”
Caples felt even better after his team hit in the fifth as teammates Sey-Juan Lawrence, Kevin Buckley and Bubby Terp each collected two hits and scored two times, and three players, including Terp, hit doubles.
Macaluso said he chose not to throw his ace, Brett Morales, because, “I feel totally and completely confident in (Caples).
“It’s a luxury to have two guys who can throw like they do. We’ve rotated the two pitchers every other game and we decided we weren’t going to change that tonight.”
6A-3: Mitchell shuts out Winter Haven TRINITY Mitchell is making school history with each postseason game it plays. Florida State commit Cobi Johnson’s performance on the mound led Mitchell to a 7-0 victory against Winter Haven and into its first region final.
“We’re a momentum shifting kind of team,” Mitchell coach Scott Wilcox said. “Once we get the momentum, that’s where we’re trouble. We did a great job of jumping out on good pitches and making it happen rather than waiting around for something.”
Unlike the Class 6A-Region 3 quarterfinal against Sebring, in which Mitchell’s bats came alive late in the game, the Mustangs wasted no time in seizing opportunities. Mitchell (24-5) jumped on Winter Haven starting pitcher Trenton Gantt and scored three runs off three hits in the first and added a couple more runs in the second inning.
Winter Haven (24-5) was held to six hits on the night. Mitchell also took advantage of three Winter Haven errors.
“I wanted to come in and get ahead of the counts with my fastball,” said Johnson, who had six strikeouts.
“That was huge for us to not have to come from behind and being able to work from ahead. We all want to go to state and we believe this is the team to do it.”