TAMPA — When Countryside’s bus got caught in traffic, Plant had to wait for the game to begin. After a 22-minute delay, the Panthers showed more patience at the plate.
Plant (19-7) got more walks (eight) than hits (five), and used a seven-run fifth to beat Countryside 10-5 Tuesday night in the Class 6A region quarterfinals. The Panthers will host Alonso on Friday in a rematch of last week’s District 8 finale, won by Plant.
Countryside (19-10) was trying to win its first regional game since 2001. Offense was no problem for the Cougars, who had 10 hits, including seventh-inning home runs by Dalton Martinez and Brad Dunham, a three-run shot. But the damage had already been done.
Locked in a 1-all tie, Plant sent 12 batters to the plate in the fifth, highlighted by only two hits, four walks, a hit batter, three infield errors, a balk and a passed ball. The key at-bat came from Mike Demo, whose bases-loaded walk with one out put the Panthers in front. Demo was behind in the count 1-2 before losing pitcher Dominic Monda threw three straight balls. The Cougars imploded after that.
“We knew (Monda) was going to throw a lot of sliders and you kind of sensed some were going to be a little bit wild,” Plant coach Dennis Braun said. “It was just a matter of us starting to see that pitch. The more we kept seeing it, the more that helped us down the road.”
Joe Hudek (2-0) got the win in relief.
“The thing that we’ve been badgering all year is pitching and defense,” Countryside coach Kemo O’Sullivan said. “We found ourselves not being able to pitch and catch.”