WESLEY CHAPEL — Marshall McDougall tinkered with the lineup, making him look like a genius.
“That’s why they pay me the big bucks to coach high school baseball,” said the FSU Hall of Fame baseball player and first-year Wiregrass Ranch coach, jokingly.
McDougall moved Alex Goebel to the third spot in the batting order Wednesday because the junior catcher was hitting so well. It resulted in Goebel leading the Bulls to a 3-2 walk-off win against Brandon in the Class 7A-Region 2 quarterfinals, propelling them (19-6) to their second straight region semifinal.
“I was just trying to drive the ball the other way, but this team has a lot of resiliency,” Goebel said. “This team is capable of doing anything, in my mind.”
“Like I told these guys: games like this develop champions,” McDougall added. “Teams that turn into champions find ways to win, just like we did tonight.”
Wiregrass found itself in a 2-0 hole thanks to the Eagles (16-10) getting and RBI double from Ryan Anderson to score Austin Sullivan and a fielder’s choice RBI in the third inning.
Zach Drury would hit an RBI single to trim the lead in the bottom of the inning, but relief pitching would shut down both teams. Zach Drury replaced his brother, Austin, who struck out five, to throw 22⁄3 innings, allowing just a hit and striking out four. Anderson replaced Antonio Velez for 2 1-3 innings and cruised until the seventh when he gave up a lead-off walk to Richie Piazza.
Austin Drury would drive Piazza home with an RBI single, then get to third himself on two passed balls. On a 2-1 count, Goebel would drive home Drury for the win.
“Don’t really know what he threw, just knew that I needed to hit at least one pitch,” Goebel said.
7A-2: Gilcrease lifts Sickles past Durant
PLANT CITY — Levi Gilcrease admitted — as did his coach — his season has not been the best, but it didn’t matter in this Class 7A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
The left fielder made a spectacular diving catch in the first inning, then belted a go-ahead three-run homer in a five-run fifth to lead Sickles to a 5-3 win against Durant.
“He was due. He was in a slump,” Sickles coach Bob Pagano said. “We were waiting for his bat to explode and it did.”
Gilcrease also singled.
Gyphon Elias Iglesias added a run-scoring triple in the big inning; Ace pitcher Troy Bacon pitched a complete game, and Xavier Rodriquez made a sensational diving catch on a line drive to center field.
“Bacon wasn’t as sharp at first, but after our big inning, the adrenaline came back and he looked much sharper,” the coach said.
Bacon struck out six .
In the second inning, Durant’s Luke Heyer hit a leadoff double and Jake Sullivan followed with a base hit bunt. Damage was minimized when the next batter hit a line drive to Sickles first baseman Matt Gele who caught it and stepped on first for unassisted double play.
The team turned another double play in the third to limit Durant’s three-run uprising. Heyer hit his second double; this, scoring Garrett Wright and Paxton Sims. Wright scored after hitting a run-scoring single.
5A-3: Jesuit holds off Boca Ciega
TAMPA — Pitching finesse turned over to power as a pair of lefties led the way for Jesuit, as the Tigers got by Boca Ciega, 3-2, in a Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
Senior starter Kasey Radke finally found a spot for his curveball to the liking of the umpire and the University of Tampa commit used three pitches effectively. He got near his regular pitch limit and Boca Ciega threatened in the in the sixth getting runners on second and third and Jesuit (21-6) coach Richie Warren decided to make his move turning to hard-throwing, sophomore southpaw Michael Sandborn.
“Kasey threw a heck of a game but I felt in that part of the lineup, bring in Sandborn because they hadn’t seen that type of velocity in the game,” Warren said.
The Pirates first crack at the new pitcher was a hard, high chopper toward second base resulting in a single and Boca Ciega cutting Jesuit’s lead to one. From there however, Sandborn proved over-powering retiring the next five, including four strikeouts.
“That first single was tough, bounced off the plate and we just couldn’t get him,” Sandborn said. “I knew I had to do some work then and I locked in and got out of it.”
Sandborn has 32 strikeouts in 20 innings this season picking up his first save and securing Radke’s win, as the senior’s record now stands at 7-1.
“I love seeing him come in,” Radke, who finished with four strikeouts, said of Sandborn. “He throws hard, always throws strikes. He’s good to have out there.”
Jesuit scored a run each in the first three innings as Danny Lastra and Nick Ortega had RBI hits and pinch-runner Nick Perillo scored the final Tigers’ run on a wild pitch.
Boca Ciega (12-15) got a solid effort from starter Tanner Watkins, who struck out five and held the Tigers without a hit in his final three innings of work. The Pirates had RBI singles from Tully Allen and Nick Adams in the loss.
5A-3: Robinson cruises
BRADENTON — Robinson defeated Bradenton Bayshore 6-0 in the Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinals. The victory advances to the Knights to the semifinals at Jesuit. Robinson has dropped all three games it has played against Jesuit by a combined 12-5 score.
5A-Region 2: Pasco drops Land O’ Lakes
LAND O’ LAKES — Nothing was going to get in the way of Pasco senior pitcher Malik Johns closing the door on Land O’ Lakes in an 8-3 Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal victory. Johns threw 127 pitches, pitched a complete game and struck out eight.
“Before the game, I wasn’t even supposed to pitch but all the guys wanted me to,” Johns said of making the surprise start. “I’d rather have the ball be in my hands in my senior year.”
Giving Johns a lead to work with was the first order of business for Pasco and that came quickly, as the Pirates scored two runs between the first couple of innings. Pasco’s AJ Rainaldi blasted a two-run homer over the left field fence in the top of the third to put the Pirates up 4-0.
The Pirates had 12 hits and took advantage of four Gators errors.
Land O’ Lakes scored runs in the fourth and seventh innings against Johns, but just could not get the bats going early on, with the Gators only having six hits.
5A-2: Sunlake holds on
BROOKSVILLE – Prep baseball’s Class 5A, Region II quarterfinal round opened Wednesday with three upsets.
After Class 5A-District 7 runner-up Pasco shredded 5A-8 champion Land O’ Lakes at “The Swamp,” 8-3, district runner-up Belleview ousted 5A-6 champ Inverness Citrus, 8-2.
Hernando, the 5A-7 champion, was third host team to fall, losing 2-1 to 5A-8 runner-up Sunlake, 2-1.
The only district champion in 5A-II not to be eliminated Wednesday night was 5A-5 champion Citra-North Marion as the Colts game against Lecanto was rained out and was rescheduled for Thursday.
The Seahawks (18-9) captured its first regional win behind senior left-hander David Castillo, who allowed three hits through 6 2/3 innings.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh off senior reliever Ryan Talburt, HHS (23-5) snapped Castillo’s bid at a combined shutout with a one-out fielder’s choice by Brendan Litwinsky, scoring courtesy runner Logan Flood.
Castillo (7-3) kept the Leopards off-balance by blending his speeds, yielding three walks while striking out a game-high 11.
Sunlake scored two unearned runs on two infield singles and two of the Leopards’ game-high three errors in the second inning, scoring seniors Omar Cala and Zac Scranton.
Cala went 3-for-3, all singies.
HHS right-hander Kyle Kilbourne (9-2) permitted four singles, two runs (both unearned) against one walk and 10 strikeouts.
3A-2: Potosky leads Bishop McLaughlin
SPRING HILL — For the second consecutive week, Bishop McLaughlin head coach Jeff Swymer decided to let Will Potosky do the pitching.
For the second consecutive game, the junior delivered with a complete game effort in leading the Hurricanes (20-7) past Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic 5-3 in a Class 3A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
“The wind was blowing out at over 20 mph and Will is a ground ball pitcher, so I had a hunch he would come up big for us and he did,” Swymer said.
The Hawks (18-11) got to Potosky with a runs in the second and third innings, but were unable to score afterwards, squandering a bases-loaded rally in the fourth inning and leaving two runners in scoring position in the sixth inning.
Down 2-0, the Canes tied the game in the bottom of the third. Drew Stofanik lofted a home run to left field that cleared the wall by a foot. Paul Coumoulos, who made three outstanding running catches in the field, lined a single and later scored on a fielder’s choice by Zack Berglund. In the fourth inning, consecutive hits by Ethan Nuebling, Dillon Morton, RJ Perciavalle and Stofanik gave Bishop McLaughlin two more runs. A sacrifice fly by Coumoulos in the sixth inning closed the scoring.
“The bottom of our lineup picked us up tonight,” said Swymer. “Their contributions at the plate and in the field made the difference for us.” For Stofanik, his goal was simply to make contact at the plate.
“If I hit it hard, I knew good things would happen,” he said. “Every hitter dreams of being at the plate with the wind blowing out. I was fortunate to help the team twice.”
3A-2: Tampa Prep stops Lakeland Chr.
LAKELAND — Tampa Prep scored all of its runs in the third inning in defeating Lakeland Christian 5-3 in the Class 3A-Region 2 semifinals.
After scoring three runs in the first inning, Watson Ransom shut down the Vikings (16-8) in earning the victory. Matt Hodges earned the save for the Terrapins (18-10).
Tampa Prep will meet Bishop McLaughlin in the region semifinals in a rematch of the district championship.