PLANT CITY — By the time East Bay High’s Darius Sillart sent a double to left field to break up Durant pitcher Ryan Barfield’s no-hit bid in the sixth inning, the hill was too steep for the Indians to climb. Top-seeded Durant held on Wednesday for a 5-2 Class 7A-District 7 baseball semifinal win.
The Cougars will try to top Brandon, a 2-0 winner against Strawberry Crest, for a third time this season to capture the district crown Friday.
In the nightcap, Durant (17-6) picked up runs in the first four innings to get out in front of East Bay starting in the first as Corey Hamm singled and later scored on an error. Garrett Wright added an RBI double in the second and later an RBI in the two-run fourth in support of Barfield, who went 62⁄3 innings allowing two runs on one hit, while striking out three.
“I heard whispers in the dugout and I started keeping track,” Barfield said of his five-plus no-hit innings. “It was in my head in the dugout, but I cleared my mind out on the mound.”
Tyler Long and Luke Heyer had RBI singles in the win. East Bay scored two in the sixth on a Tyler Blaisdell groundout and a wild pitch.
In the first semifinal, Brandon (16-8) took advantage of an early Chargers error to get all it needed in the first as Austin Sullivan walked, moved to second on a Jordan Feist single, stole third and scored on an errant throw.
7A-8: Sickles, Wiregrass triumph
TAMPA — Sickles and Wiregrass Ranch emerged from the dogfight of the Class 7A-District 8 semifinals and Hillsborough County said goodbye to local coaching legend Frank Permuy.
All four teams were tied for first at the end of the regular season making the games a battle for s shot at advancing to regions. Sickles put Gaither away, 5-1, and Wiregrass Ranch topped Steinbrenner, 4-2. Sickles will meet Wiregrass Ranch for the district title on Friday.
The Gaither loss marked the end of Permuy’s coaching career at Gaither. He’s the only coach the school has known. He said it was time to step down and he was proud of his team for its effort in his final year.
“It’s bittersweet,’’ Permuy said. “Nobody expected much from us.”
Gaither took a 1-0 lead before it scored twice in the third. Troy Bacon’s two out single gave Sickles its first lead. Sickles scored two more in the fourth when Elias Iglesias singled in two runs. Gaither made three key errors, all leading to runs.
Earlier, Austin Drury shut down the Warriors. He struck out four and allowed five hits, but he let his defense do the talking.
6A-9: Jefferson, King move to final
TAMPA — Jefferson will face King in the 6A-District 9 championship today after both teams’ starting pitchers shut down their opponents, Hillsborough and Leto, respectively.
Jefferson’s Jonathon Diaz pitched a complete game, striking out six in his team’s 8-4 victory against Hillsborough (18-6). Jose Cuellar, Trey Robinson and Anthony Perez all tripled and singled, and Alejandro Martinez doubled and singled as the team had 13 hits, overcoming a 3-0 deficit heading into the third inning. Jefferson has a record of 18-8.
In the second game, King’s Tyler Checkley pitched two-hit ball through six innings, striking out five, leading the Lions to a 9-2 victory against Leto (12-13).
Checkley, who is 8-1 this year, retired the last eight batters he faced and 12 of the final 13 before he was lifted after six innings.
John Hernandez put top-seed King in the lead, 2-1, in the fourth inning, smashing a triple to right center on the seventh pitch he saw in the at-bat. Bubby Terp and Ronald Copeland scored on the play. Terp had singled and Jose Lopez had walked and was pitch ran for by Ronald Copeland prior to the big hit.
Leto’s Rodney Jackson tripled to lead off the game and was chased home on a ground out to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead that lasted until the fourth inning. Jackson injured himself in center field attempting to catch a ball in the fifth inning and was carted off the field.
After the 12-minute delay, King’s Kobe Barnum came to the plate and hit a 345-foot two-run home run to right field to put the game out of reach.
6A-10: Johnson lifts Mitchell
SPRING HILL — Cobi Johnson returned to the mound for the first time in more than a month, and played a key role in Wednesday’s Class 6A-District 10 semifinal.
With pro scouts gathered behind home plate, the hard-throwing righty who has signed with FSU earned the win while going 3-for-4 with two doubles, as third-seeded Mitchell defeated second-seeded host Springstead, 3-2.
Johnson had been shut down from pitching due to a shoulder/arm injury. He threw three innings, giving up a run on two hits and three walks while striking out three.
He also doubled in the first and third innings, setting up a sacrifice fly and RBI single in those frames, both off the bat of Kyle Frick.
Kamren Powers singled in a run in the second, and Ryan Slaughter allowed a run on one hit over four innings of relief to help the Mustangs (16-10) clinch a regional berth and a spot in Friday’s championship game at Seminole-Osceola.
Chris Bernhardt Jr., Hernando Today
5A-7: Pasco stops Wesley Chapel
ZEPHYRHILLS — A.J. Rainaldi hit two home runs and had six RBIs, and Brian Johnson scattered three hits in a complete game, as Pasco (16-9) continued its postseason dominance against Wesley Chapel (18-8) with an 8-1 win in the 5A-District 7 semifinals.
The Pirates got on the board quickly, as Robbie Hanlon led the contest off with a homer. Two batters later, Rainaldi smacked a two-run blast to give Pasco a 3-0 edge in the top of the first.
A run-scoring single in the second inning by Grant Starling expanded the Pasco lead to 4-0 before Rainaldi put the game away with a grand slam in the fourth.
The Pirates will take on top-seeded Hernando (22-4) in the district finals on Friday. The Leopards beat Central, 2-1, with a walk-off home run by Brendan Litwinsky, in the bottom of the seventh, in the earlier semifinal.
5A-8: Land O’ Lakes, Sunlake advance
HUDSON — Both Land O’ Lakes and Sunlake had big first innings and now the in-town rivals will meet tonight for the Class 5A-District 8 title.
Sunlake downed upstart Tarpon Springs 13-3, while Land O’ Lakes knocked off top-seeded River Ridge 7-2 at Fivay.
The Gators (17-8) grabbed a 5-0 lead off UCF commit Jason Heinrich thanks to RBI singles by Max Law and Ben Moultrie and a two-run double by Logan Henderson. Pitcher Tommy Guglielmello would allow just a hit and a run over 61⁄3 innings and strike out eight to improve to 6-0 and a 0.65 ERA.
In the first semifinal, Sunlake (17-8) used a big first inning that including nine runs on nine hits.