MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
CLEARWATER — Let the rematch of all rematches begin.
Clearwater Central Catholic scored eight runs in the first three innings against Avon Park on Tuesday on the way to an 8-0 victory in the first round of the Class 3A region playoffs.
The Marauders host Friday’s region semifinal against Tampa Catholic in what will be the 10th meeting between the teams over the past two seasons.
“We had it in the back of our mind (before Tuesday’s game), but we still knew we needed to take care of business before we could completely start thinking about (Tampa Catholic),” said starter Jeff Campbell (6-4), who allowed five hits and had three strikeouts in seven innings. “Once we got that big lead, it was nice to just settle down and go after hitters. Now we move on to a team that we know well and who knows us pretty well.”
A Marauders team that includes 10 seniors wasted no time in paving the way toward a 10th meeting in two years with the Crusaders.
After staking a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Marauders scored three runs in the second inning that was highlighted by a two-run double by Steven Arango (3-for-3). The Marauders broke open the game in the third with four runs that included a two-run double by Benny Mendizabal (2-for-3, two runs) and a run-scoring single by Arango.
“I’ve told them that if they want to be the best then they have to face the best and beat the best,” Marauders coach Todd Vaughn said. “This group has demonstrated a certain sense of leadership at the beginning of the season and throughout the season."