ST. PETERSBURG — Mitchell had won 14 games before Wednesday’s matchup with Northeast in the Northeast Spring Break tournament final. The 15th was a 4-2 masterpiece that included 13 strikeouts by starter Cobi Johnson and 13 Mustang hits.
And so far, it’s the most meaningful win in Mitchell’s 15-3 season.
“We’re a Pasco County team coming down here to Pinellas, nobody expects us to win,” Johnson said. “I think we’re showing how good baseball up in Pasco County is.”
After jumping out to a big lead and hanging on for dear life against Clearwater in a semifinal Tuesday, Mitchell had to come back from an early deficit against Northeast.
Johnson gave up a leadoff hit to Chris Clark in the first inning. Clark stole second, and one out later Bret Maxwell singled to drive him home for the first run.
Northeast starter Colton Tison cruised through the first two innings but got into trouble in the third. Chris McCormick reached on a fielder’s choice and Johnson followed with a single. A few pitches later, Northeast catcher Maxwell tried to pick off Johnson at first but his throw sailed into rightfield. McCormick was able to score from second to tie the game.
Things didn’t get better for the Vikings in the fourth when Eddie Goscicki led off with a home run to right-centerfield. Later in the inning, Josh Lamb tripled to drive in Alex Torres and make it 3-1.
“I was battling that whole at-bat,” Goscicki said. “He was giving me nothing but offspeed. It was the first fast ball I got and I was waiting for it; it was the golden pitch. My eyes got wide. I tried hitting a line drive but it worked out better than that.”
Mitchell’s final run came in the fifth when Blake Hart hit an infield single with two out that scored pinch-runner Jake Fowler.
Staked to a three-run lead, Johnson was in control. He scattered seven hits and did not walk a batter. His only other bump came in the fifth when he gave up a double to Clark then threw a wild pitch that allowed him to score from second.
“In the first inning it took a while to get everything clicking,” said Johnson, who has signed with Florida State. “I was having a hard time getting the curveball over. Throughout the game I started to get the curveball over and got guys off the fastball.”
Northeast coach Rob Stanifer said he knew it was not going to be an easy night for his team.
“(Johnson) threw a heck of a game,” Stanifer said. “He’s got a great arm and a really sharp curveball. Sometimes you just tip your cap to a guy. He just beat you.”