HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay
1. Jesuit (10-0)
This week: Tuesday at Spoto, Wednesday vs. Countryside, Thursday vs. Dunedin
Scoop: The Tigers have now been tested twice, winning eight-inning, one-run games against Robinson and Seminole. Besides that, though, Jesuit has rolled, outscoring its other eight opponents 90-1. A game against Countryside this week will be the next test for an already battle-tested squad.
2. Berkeley Prep (9-0)
This week: Tuesday at Clearwater Central Catholic, Friday vs. Tampa Prep, Saturday vs. Lakeland McKeel
Scoop: In addition to being one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the area, Berkeley Prep wins the award for most improved team. After this week, the Bucs could be just one victory from matching their win total from all of last season, and they have a balanced offense — four Bucs are hitting at least .500 — to thank for that.
3. Hillsborough (6-2)
This week: Tuesday at King, Thursday at Blake, Saturday vs. Strawberry Crest (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Terriers’ loss to Gaither last week kept them from running away with the top spot in Class 7A-8, making their district game against King on Tuesday night all the more important. Still, with Tim Elko — who is hitting .583 with 13 RBIs — leading the way, Hillsborough’s offense could be tough to stop.
4. Mitchell (7-2)
This week: Thursday at Gulf, Friday at Dixie Hollins
Scoop: The Mustangs ran into some hot bats on Friday in a 9-5 loss to Northeast. This week should be a little less stressful, but only if the defense shapes up. Mitchell made three errors against the Vikings.
5. Countryside (7-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. St. Petersburg, Wednesday at Jesuit, Saturday at Seminole
Scoop: The Cougars have a good pitching staff, led by sophomore Tanner Baker and junior Matt Adams. They will find out just how good the staff is this week. The offense is hitting over .320 as a team, which will need to continue.
6. King (8-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Hillsborough, Thursday vs. Jefferson, Saturday vs. Tampa Bay Tech (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: King had a strong week last week, outscoring its two opponents 38-2. The Lions are stepping up despite their young squad, and senior first baseman Kobe Barnum has been hot at the plate, hitting two home runs in last week’s victory against Chamberlain.
7. Bishop McLaughlin (6-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Lakeland Santa Fe, Friday at IMG
Scoop: The Hurricanes have won five straight. Dillon Morton is hitting .571 and Carson Ragsdale is hitting .500. Dominic Diaz is 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA to lead the pitching staff. If that keeps up, Bishop McLaughlin will be tough to beat again this season.
8. Bloomingdale (7-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Durant, Thursday at Newsome, Saturday vs. Plant City (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Bulls looked good on both sides of the ball in their win against Brandon last week, and their pitching in particular has been on point. Having a pair of aces in Carson Crouse (17 innings pitched, 1.24 ERA) and Anthony Tubb (16.1 innings pitched, 1.29 ERA) could give Bloomingdale an advantage down the stretch.
9. Brandon (8-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Armwood, Thursday at East Bay, Saturday vs. Leto (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: Brandon had a tough loss to Bloomingdale last week, but rebounded two days later with a 24-0 victory against Tampa Bay Tech, in which LHP Antonio Velez gave up just one hit while notching three RBIs at the plate.
10. Alonso (7-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University, Saturday vs. Lennard (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: Alonso still hasn’t missed a beat since it’s three straight losses to open the season, and a 5-0 victory against district foe Newsome last week gave the Ravens a slight edge in the Class 9A-8 standings. Can Alonso keep up the good work and win a second straight Saladino title next week?
11. Durant (7-2)
This week: Tuesday at Bloomingdale, Thursday vs. Steinbrenner, Saturday vs. Steinbrenner (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Cougars have struggled in district play, dropping their second Class 8A-6 game to Plant City last week. They’ll have a chance to bounce back against district foe Bloomingdale, which is a must-win to save last year’s state semifinalists from slipping too far behind.
12. Strawberry Crest (7-2)
This week: Tuesday at Wiregrass Ranch, Thursday vs. Plant City, Saturday vs. Hillsborough (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Chargers haven’t beaten many tough teams this season, but they’ll have a chance to prove what they’re made of starting Saturday in the Saladino Tournament. Meanwhile, senior RHP Brandon Harris has been holding his own on the mound, giving up just three earned runs in 23 innings pitched.
13. Northeast (7-2)
This week: Wednesday vs. Pinellas Park, Friday at Osceola
Scoop: The Vikings can hit, and that added dimension makes them dangerous. Derek Jaar, Ryan Cook and Chase Bardes are all hitting over .400. With a nice win over district foe Mitchell behind them, the Vikings have to focus against two very good teams this week.
14. Osceola (7-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Largo, Friday vs. Northeast
Scoop: Last week the Warriors picked up a nine-inning win over East Lake and a 2-1 win over Clearwater. Northeast is sure to be a test this week. Pitching remains the strength. Osceola has a 1.24 team ERA, led by Corey Ireson (3-1, 0.88).
15. East Lake (6-3)
This week: Tuesday at Seminole, Friday at Pinellas Park
Scoop: East Lake will try to bounce back from a 4-3 extra-inning loss to Osceola last week. Lack of offense has been the main problem this season. With two capable teams on the schedule this week, the offense will be challenged once again.
16. Steinbrenner (5-3)
This week: Thursday at Durant, Saturday vs. Durant (Saladino tournament)
Scoop: The Warriors are in the middle of a six-day break, but they’ll return with back-to-back matchups with Durant, one being a potential highlight for Saladino Tournament play on Saturday. CJ Van Eyk is contributing in a big way on both sides of the ball, hitting .407 and posting a 0.54 ERA.
17. Newsome (7-2)
This week: Tuesday at Riverview, Thursday vs. Bloomingdale, Saturday vs. Riverview (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: Newsome has had some close games this season, but they’ve managed to pull out most of them out, winning three by just a single run. The Wolves’ seven-game win streak was snapped last week by Alonso, but they should still be a force in this weekend’s Saladino Tournament.
18. Palm Harbor University (4-3)
This week: Tuesday at Alonso, Saturday vs. Winter Haven
Scoop: Things did not go well for the Hurricanes the first time around against Alonso. And Winter Haven is a very solid team. PHU must play its “A’’ game this week in order to keep a winning record.
19. Springstead (8-3)
This week: Tuesday at Crystal River, Friday at Weeki Wachee
Scoop: The Eagles don’t tear the cover off the ball, but they do pitch well enough to win. Noah Siem is 2-1 with a 0.34 ERA. Miguel Martinez has 28 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.
20. Robinson (7-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Middleton, Thursday at Wharton, Saturday vs. Blake (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: Robinson’s only losses have come at the hands of Alonso and Jesuit, two of the more talented teams in the area, and the Knights have rolled against the others, scoring double-digit runs in four different games.
21. Land O’Lakes (8-0)
This week: Tuesday at Zephyrhills, Friday at River Ridge
Scoop: If the Gators are to remain undefeated, they must get past a good Zephyrhills team on Tuesday. With a team ERA of 0.24, it’s hard to get on base against Land O’Lakes.
22. Gaither (5-3)
This week: Thursday vs. Freedom, Saturday vs. Brooks DeBartolo (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Cowboys have had an up-and-down start, but wins against Hillsborough and King show they’ve got potential. Gaither’s offense has shown signs of dominance, and the Cowboys have beaten their five opponents 37-6.
23. Plant (6-3)
This week: Tuesday at Sickles, Saturday vs. Jefferson (Saladino tournament)
Scoop: Plant has struggled at the plate at times this season, but the Panthers had a good week last week, scoring a total of nine runs and winning two one-run games. While no Panther in particular is lighting it up, five are hitting between .250 and .261.
24. Riverview (5-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Plant City, Saturday vs. Newsome (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Sharks’ wins against Alonso, Durant and Bloomingdale were big, but they need a little more consistency to keep up. Infielder Anthony Gonnella is still one of the best hitters in the county, posting a .565 average and 13 RBIs.
25. Pinellas Park (6-3)
This week: Wednesday at Northeast, Friday vs. East Lake
Scoop: The Patriots have lost three of four, but those defeats came against top 25 teams East Lake, Seminole and Countryside. It’s not any easier this week. The pitching must hold and the offense must come through to get out of this week without a loss.
On the bubble: Zephyrhills (6-1), Northside Christian (9-2), Keswick Christian (9-0), Hernando (6-4), Indian Rocks Christian (7-5), River Ridge (5-3), Calvary Christian (5-4), Plant City (5-3), Wharton (5-4), Seminole (6-5)