PINELLAS PARK — The freshman pitched an outstanding game of shutout ball. But it was his second successful pickoff of the game that extended Pinellas Park’s season.
Brandon Grigsby’s seventh-inning throw to second base nailed Troy Strominger, giving Pinellas Park the 2-0 victory over East Lake in Friday’s Class 5A region semifinals.
The effort was all the more impressive considering East Lake had scored 10 runs in three of its past four games.
“I can’t say enough about (Grigsby),” Patriots coach Bill Ruttencutter said. “He’s been great all year.”
The Patriots (13-14) got on the board in the fourth inning when Brian Long drove in Ryan Reinoso from third base. Grigsby added an insurance run in the sixth inning with a homer to left.
“My first home run of the season came at the right time,” a modest Grigsby said.
East Lake (19-9) had runners in scoring position in the second and fourth innings with one out. But Grigsby helped get out of the early-inning jam by picking off Adam Treichel at second. Two innings later, another Grigsby pickoff attempt sailed into centerfield. But the throw in caught the runner advancing to third.
Grigsby, who admitted to being nervous at the outset, dealt with the big-game pressure admirably and displayed a composed demeanor that served him well against a team known for its aggressive play on the base paths.
“I knew I had to stay calm and stay positive,” Grigsby said.
Following two straight 1-2-3 innings for Grigsby, things turned tense in the top of the seventh. After striking out Treichel, Grigsby walked Nick Mazzoni. Strominger then reached base safely on a fielder’s choice. With the Eagles down to their final out, Grant Hodges singled to left.
That’s when Ruttencutter, who said he expected the Eagles to attempt a double steal, called for the game-ending play.