Prior to going out and converting his first save of the season back in February, Tampa Prep reliever Matt Hodges slapped his glove in his hands, looked at teammate Kirby Wilson and proclaimed, “It’s Matt Time.”
His teammates haven’t let him forget it, but Friday night, with the Terrapins holding a one-run lead in the fifth inning of the Class 3A-District 8 final against Brooks-DeBartolo, the sophomore lefty went out and closed the door with three innings of one-hit baseball as the Terrapins repeated as district champs, winning 6-4.
“It started in a close game and I was fired up,” Hodges said. “I guess I told Kirby ‘it’s Matt Time’ and it just started going around.”
Tampa Prep (19-8) started quickly as Hodges, who started the game in centerfield, singled in the game’s first run, followed later in the first with an RBI from Sam Martin.
Brooks-DeBartolo (10-11) tied the game in the third as senior Brenden Rivera hit a home run to right center to lead off the inning followed by back-to-back doubles from Michael Stewart and Shane Jeffcoat, the latter tying the game at 2.
Luis Medina briefly gave the Terrapins back the lead with an RBI double, with the Phoenix responding in the fourth by scoring a pair.
Medina, the Terrapins’ freshman catcher, would not be denied however, plating the decider in the two-run fourth with an RBI single.
Interim coach John DeTringo, who has filled in most of the season as coach AJ Hendrix has been sidelined for medical reasons, pointed to Medina’s at-bats as being the late-season spark for the Terrapins.
Lane Stancil wanted to pitch, asked to pitch, then went out there and pitched. And pitched well.
“That was a gutsy performance,” first year Pasco coach Pat Fortunato said of the junior right-hander, who usually plays shortstop and had pitched only two innings in the regular season.
Stancil’s performance, plus two RBIs apiece from Robbie Hanlon and Troy Rivera, helped the Pirates (20-8) to a Class 5A-District 8 title with a 6-2 win over Wesley Chapel (19-8).
“I know a lot of guys over there and I wanted to go after them,” said Stancil, who pitched five innings, scattered five hits and six walks and gave up one earned run. “I just wanted the ball tonight.”
“When he said he wanted to go Wednesday, I let him have it,” added Fortunato, who was an assistant coach for Wesley Chapel coach Chuck Yingling for five years. “I trust (Stancil).”
After five, Fortunato brought in senior ace Blaine Duncan to pitch the final two innings that included three strikeouts and no hits. Duncan pitched a complete-game, one-hit shutout in Wednesday’s semifinal.
The Pirates found themselves in an early hole after the Wildcats’ Turner Imhoff drove home Kyle Bierly in the first. But Pasco would score four in the second to grab a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The Pirates could have had more runs, but Fortunato sent Stancil home in the first and Hanlon in the fourth. Stancil would get caught in a long rundown, and a relay would nab Hanlon.
Pasco will host Eustis in the region quarterfinals Thursday, while Wesley Chapel will travel to Brooksville Hernando.