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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay

Steinbrenner returns to the top of our area baseball rankings.

Scott Purks | Special to the Times

Steinbrenner returns to the top of our area baseball rankings.

5

April

1. Steinbrenner (15-5)

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This week: Tuesday vs. Leto, Thursday vs. Strawberry Crest

Scoop: The Warriors rebounded from their Saladino slump with wins over solid Gaither and King squads. Against the Lions, eight Warriors combined for nine hits and Patrick Morris led the way with two RBIs in the 4-2 victory.

2. Alonso (15-6)

This week: Tuesday at Gaither, Thursday vs. Jefferson

Scoop: Alonso has lost three of its past five, dropping games to Steinbrenner, Plant and Riverview, but the Ravens have already proven once this season that they rebound easily. They’ve still also got one of the best offensive lineups around, with eight of nine starters hitting at least .300.

3. Jesuit (17-4)

This week: Tuesday vs. Robinson, Friday vs. Tampa Catholic

Scoop: After dropping a game to Calvary Christian on March 23, the Tigers have rolled, outscoring two out-of-state teams 15-1 before topping Jefferson 7-4 Monday. Drew Martin and Jack Anderson are carrying the load on the mound, posting 1.52 and 0.28 ERAs, respectively.

4. Land O’Lakes (18-1)

This week: Tuesday at Wiregrass Ranch, Friday at Sunlake

Scoop: The Gators have rattled off five straight wins since an extra-innings loss to Nature Coast. Max Law (.448) and McCabe Sargent (.400) are the top hitters, while Sargent and Kirby Osborn are both 7-0 as starters.

5. Berkeley Prep (16-5)

This week: Tuesday at Lakeland, Friday at Lakeland Santa Fe

Scoop: Since its rough outing at the IMG Spring Break tournament, Berkeley Prep has won its past two games, beating Brooks DeBartolo 20-0 in three innings before winning a close one against Clearwater Central Catholic. Julian Bosnic is still the one to watch, as the sophomore is hitting. 500 with 15 RBIs and boasts a 0.95 ERA.

6. East Lake (15-4)

This week: Tuesday vs. Seminole, Thursday vs. Tarpon Springs

Scoop: Not sure there are many area teams playing better baseball right now than East Lake. The Eagles have won nine straight. They have a world of pitching depth and the offense is getting better. Shortstop Kevin Lambert is having a big senior year, hitting .429 with four doubles and a triple.

7. Mitchell (16-4)

This week: Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University, Thursday at Zephyrhills

Scoop: Call it the Tampa Bay Times curse, but the Mustangs are on a two-game losing streak after being ranked No. 1 last week in our poll. They were both one-run losses, to Land O’Lakes and Osceola. The pitching trio of Jakob Mattos, Blake Parry and Tyler Edling has been steady. The bats need to come alive.

8. Osceola (15-5)

This week: Wednesday vs. Lakewood, Thursday vs. Pinellas Park

Scoop: Looking for a team that could make some noise in the postseason? Look at the Warriors. They have had many big wins this season, the latest being 1-0 over Mitchell. Chase Achuff remains a top player, with a .406 batting average.

9. Bishop McLaughlin (14-5)

This week: Wednesday at Springstead, Thursday at Bell Creek Academy

Scoop: The Hurricanes played four games last week at the IMG National Showcase and went 2-2. That included an eight-inning, 6-5 win over St. Edward of Ohio. Now comes a three-game week (including a Monday game), which will again test the pitching staff.

10. Plant (15-5)

This week: Tuesday vs. Durant, Thursday at Chamberlain

Scoop: Plant may be one of the hottest teams around, winning five straight since its Saladino semifinal loss to Alonso, including an eight-inning victory against rival Robinson. In that game, seven Panthers combined for eight hits.

11. Hillsborough (11-5)

This week: Tuesday vs. Middleton, Thursday at Robinson, Friday vs. Armwood

Scoop: Since their Saladino slip-up, the Terriers have dominated, winning all three games they’ve played, including one against Steinbrenner. Against the Warriors, three Terriers had a pair of hits, and Patrick Puentes started on the mound, giving up just one hit and one run in four frames.

12. King (12-5)

This week: Thursday at Blake

Scoop: The Lions got a boost from RHP Luke Drummond last week, who had a no-hitter in an 8-0 victory against Leto. The Lions have also taken their lumps, losing games to Gaither and Steinbrenner since coming back from spring break.

13. Brandon (14-5)

This week: Tuesday at Riverview, Thursday vs. Middleton

Scoop: The Eagles dropped their first Class 7A-9 game last week to Braden River, but at 7-1 in the standings, they’re still tied for the top spot with the Pirates. LHP Antonio Velez has struck out 102 in 57 ⅓ innings, and he has a 6-1 record to go along with his 0.49 ERA.

14. Northeast (14-5)

This week: Wednesday vs. St. Petersburg, Friday at Gibbs, Saturday vs. Largo

Scoop: The Vikings are trying to get back on track after an eight-inning, 3-2 loss to Sunlake. That loss dropped Northeast a game behind both Sunlake and Osceola in Class 7A, District 10 standings. There are no district games this week, and Northeast should be able to build some momentum.

15. Nature Coast (15-3)

This week: Tuesday at Gulf, Thursday at Citrus

Scoop: The Sharks laid it on Hernando last week, 18-1. They have outscored opponents 135-64 this season, are hitting .306 as a team and have a team ERA of 2.38. Nature Coast is certainly no fluke.

16. Strawberry Crest (13-6)

This week: Tuesday at Spoto, Thursday at Steinbrenner

Scoop: Since returning from spring break, the Chargers have dropped games to Armwood and Durant, but they’re still perfect in Class 8A-4 play, and with only four games left in the regular season have earned an easy road to the state playoffs.

17. Springstead (16-4)

This week: Tuesday vs. Hernando, Wednesday vs. Bishop McLaughlin

Scoop: Not an easy week for the Eagles. Pitching has been the strength and they will need it from here on out. Miguel Martinez is 7-1 with a 0.66 ERA. Noah Siem is 4-1 with a 0.20 ERA. With those two strong starters, Springstead could go far.

18. Countryside (14-7)

This week: Tuesday vs. IMG Gray, Wednesday vs. Clearwater

Scoop: The Cougars have been wildly inconsistent. There were two straight losses to end the Dunedin Spring tournament. Then came a nice 7-2 win over Pinellas Park, followed by a head-scratching 7-6 loss to Dixie Hollins. The Cougars needed extra innings to get past St. Petersburg. Who knows what this week holds.

19. Riverview (13-6)

This week: Tuesday vs. Brandon, Thursday at Lennard, Saturday at Gaither

Scoop: The Sharks have won eight of nine games, outscoring their past three opponents 17-2. Riverview gets a lot of credit for its presence at the plate, but on the mound the Sharks have been dominating just as much. Riverview ace Jordan Leasure has a 0.46 ERA, striking out 47 in 45 ⅔ innings pitched.

20. Plant City (12-6)

This week: Tuesday at Wharton, Thursday vs. Spoto

Scoop: The Raiders have clinched the top spot in one of the toughest districts around, which should give them momentum heading into the district tournament and possibly the state playoffs. They got there with solid hitting; seven Raiders are hitting at least .300.

21. Durant (12-6)

This week: Tuesday at Plant, Thursday vs. Newsome

Scoop: The Cougars’ four-game win streak was snapped by Plant City in a tough district loss, but with four games left in the regular season the Cougars could grab back some momentum heading into the district tournament. Spencer Nelson (.409 average, 14 RBIs) could help them do that if he continues to stand out at the plate.

22. Gaither (10-7)

This week: Tuesday vs. Alonso, Thursday vs. Bloomingdale, Saturday vs. Riverview

Scoop: Even with a 10-7 record in a tough district, Gaither sits alone at the top of the Class 7A-8 standings due to timely victories against King and Hillsborough. Solid hitting has helped, too, and Jose Cadenas leads the Cowboys with a .400 average and eight RBIs.

23. Robinson (13-6)

This week: Tuesday at Jesuit, Thursday vs. Hillsborough

Scoop: Today’s district game against Jesuit could leave a tie for first place between the Tigers and the Knights in the district standings. To beat the Tigers, though, Robinson will likely need a strong performance from Matthew Steckel, who is hitting .455 with seven doubles.

24. Newsome (12-6)

This week: Tuesday at Chamberlain, Thursday at Durant

Scoop: The Wolves are fresh off a 3-2 victory against district foe Palm Harbor University in 10 innings. That should give them the momentum they need to finish the season strong against tough teams like Robinson and Durant.

25. Palm Harbor University (11-8)

This week: Tuesday at Mitchell, Thursday vs. Largo, Saturday vs. Osceola

Scoop: The Hurricanes are hoping to snap a two-game losing streak. It won’t be easy against Mitchell, but PHU has enough pitching to go on a roll. It all depends on how the Hurricanes are hitting, which has been up and down this season.

On the bubble: Sunlake (8-5), Calvary Christian (13-6), Northside Christian (17-5), Freedom (9-9), Seminole (11-9), Tampa Catholic (10-10), Bayshore Christian (8-5)

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 1:07pm]

    

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