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RIVERVIEW — Riverview wasn’t even supposed to be here. Fresh off an unlikely Class 5A, District 8 district title, the Sharks kept their win streak alive Tuesday, beating Forest Ocala 8-7 in the Class 5A region quarterfinals.
“Once we got the first win, we were going to be unbeatable,” Sharks third baseman and relief pitcher Spencer Andrews said of the Sharks’ 4-3 win over Saladino Tournament champions Newsome in districts. “Now that we’ve sent Forest home, everybody gets a sense of how good we are.”
The Sharks racked up five runs on four hits in the first inning, but then a sense of complacency seemed to settle in.
Dylan Drawdy, a junior, was visibly nervous on the mound, and began throwing full counts. Riverview coach Bill Leiby even yelled from the dugout, “Don’t go to sleep!”
In the fourth inning, Forest centerfielder Jordan Austin hit an RBI double, followed by two more runs on three total hits.
But Leiby wasn’t worried. “One thing about these guys is they don’t quit,” he said.
He went to the mound at the top of the sixth and switched Andrews, who had been playing third base, with Drawdy.
“I told him, ‘Son, we score all of our runs in the sixth and seventh.’ ”
Against Andrews (8-2), the Wildcats hit two straight home runs with enough men on base to bring them up 7-5. In the bottom of the sixth, the Sharks brought in a runner on a base hit by Kurt Engert, then two more on a home run by Drawdy. As he ran in for the 8-7 finish, it was the first time the right-handed pitcher smiled all night.
Next up, the Sharks will meet Durant on Friday. They dispatched the Cougars 6-1 in the 5A-8 district finals.
“All year we’ve played well as a team,” Drawdy said. “We came into districts hot, and then lit it up in the first (tonight), but then cooled off and lost focus a little bit. But this is one of the best-coached teams I’ve played for.”