LAKELAND - The ride home wasn’t as joyous for Plant City on Saturday as it was Thursday.
Chris Starr laid down a bunt on the first pitch he saw from reliever Miguel Martinez and beat the throw to first, allowing Tyler Cook to score the winning run, as Lakeland Jenkins (23-5) defeated the Raiders, 3-2, in the resumption of the Class 7A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
On Thursday, Plant City (13-13) drove home thinking it had won the game, 2-1. In the seventh inning, the Eagles scored to tie the game at 2 when rain made the field unplayable. Because the inning was not completed, the umpires reverted to the score at the beginning of the inning. However, the FHSAA ruled the game must be resumed from the point that it was suspended. At that point, Jenkins had runners on first and third with two outs.
“We knew he was going to bunt, but we just didn’t execute,” said Plant City coach Michael Fryrear. “He (Starr) has a hard time hitting the curveball, so we threw him one on the first pitch and he got the bunt down. It was miscommunication on our part.”
Starr, who struck out three times against Plant City starter Kevin Long on Thursday, bunted the ball between Martinez and third baseman Zack Mondoux. Martinez slid by the ball and Starr beat Mondoux’s throw to first, allowing the winning run to score.
7A-2: Haines City shuts down Brandon BRANDON - Haines City senior Dalton Scarborough scattered three hits and didn’t allow an earned run in a 6-1 complete-game victory against Brandon on Saturday.
The Class 7A-Region 2 quarterfinal loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Brandon, coming off back-to-back district titles.
“They took it to us and we didn’t have an answer,” Eagles coach Matt Stallbaumer said. “You get this late in the year and it’s win or go home.”
Brandon didn’t go home last year until it lost to Venice in the state championship game, but previously unbeaten ace Eric Hinostroza gave up two runs, three hits and a walk in the first inning.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Troy Linderman reached on an error and Hinostroza followed with a double. Scarborough stranded the runners with a strikeout and an infield grounder.
7A-3: Steinbrenner dumps Seminole 6-1 LUTZ - The stakes have gotten a lot higher for the Steinbrenner baseball team.
When the season started, the Warriors were hoping to make it out of districts for the first time in the school’s short history. After a 6-1 romp against visiting Seminole in the first round of Class 7A-Region 3, the vision is extending all the way to Fort Myers, site of the FHSAA state championships.
The Warriors (22-2) used a complete game by Logan LaPace and a homer and three RBIs from catcher Jesse Haney to advance to the regional semifinals. LaPace retired 11 straight until allowing a single in the seventh to pick up the win.
Steinbrenner scored twice in the first and that was all LaPace needed.
“Scoring in the first to put us up was big,’’ said Steinbrenner coach John Crumbley. “Logan did everything we needed him to do and the runs just took the wind out of (Seminole’s) sails.’’
Brennan Garcia opened the bottom of the first with a walk, and Cole Gordon followed with a single. Haney doubled home the first run and Mijon Cummings followed with a long sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
7A-3: Wiregrass Ranch tops Countryside 5-2 CLEARWATER - Wiregrass Ranch will get one last shot at Steinbrenner.
After losing to the Warriors three times between the regular season and district championship, the Bulls will get a fourth and decisive chance at redemption. Wiregrass Ranch played gritty, small ball baseball and was able to get by Countryside 5-2 in a Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
“It will be our fourth time so we should know each other real well,” Wiregrass Ranch coach Jeff Swymer said about facing Steinbrenner once again. “Hopefully we can figure out their pace and who they’re throwing. It will be competitive as heck.”
Wiregrass Ranch (18-9) started off well, as the Bulls were able to score two runs off Countryside starting pitcher Jake Mielock, who lasted two innings before being replaced by relief pitcher Christian Townsend. Countryside (17-11) answered in the bottom of the frame, tying the game at 2 on runs scored off of Zach Drury, who didn’t last more than an inning.
Austin Drury would replace his brother and was able to fill in admirably. Austin pitched five innings, struck out five and was able to hold the Cougars to just one hit, a double by Mike Adams in the bottom of the sixth.
6A-3: Winter Haven ousts Land O’ Lakes WINTER HAVEN - The team overachieved all season.
“If we played the schedule again, we couldn’t win 21 games again,” Land O’ Lakes coach Calvin Baisley said. “I’ve said all along we weren’t great at anything, but good at a lot of things. Of all the teams I’ve had, this one was the most fun to coach.”
After going undefeated in district play and then losing out on a Class 6A-District 10 title, the Gators (21-7) lost out again, falling to Winter Haven 12-2 in five innings Saturday.
It was a game delayed three times due to weather, but it was a game that just got away from Land O’ Lakes in the third and fourth innings.
“It just snowballed, and when that happens, sometimes you just can’t stop it,” Baisley said. “It just fell apart after a while.”
The Gators did take a 2-0 lead early thanks to a two-run single by Kyle Sheffield, but then left the bases loaded with one out in the third.
“Like I said, we were playing good, but it got away from us fast,” Baisley added.
That’s because the Gators misplayed a bunt in the third, sending an errant throw into right field, then blew a rundown at second and third that allowed the Blue Devils (24-4) to take a 3-2 lead.
Baisley would bring in Josh Nissen in relief in the fourth, a move that should have been lights out for Winter Haven. Yet, it turned sour as Nissen would allow three hits and hit two batters. Nissen had allowed just nine hits in 25 innings pitched with a 0.28 ERA.
3A-2: Santa Fe edges Brooks-DeBartolo LAKELAND - Host Santa Fe Catholic rallied for two runs to tie and then won it in the ninth, stopping Brooks-DeBartolo 4-3 in a Class 3A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
The game was suspended Thursday in the top of the fifth with Brooks-DeBartolo ahead, 3-1.
Santa Fe Catholic will play at Tampa Prep on Tuesday in the semifinals.