Baseball: Countryside rides momentum to fourth straight win

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Sat. March 3, 2012 | Basil Spyridakos

CLEARWATER — Kemo O’Sullivan had concerns about his team’s attitude during warmups Friday night. Countryside battled and defeated Tarpon Springs 3-2 in dramatic fashion late Thursday, and O’Sullivan wanted to ascertain his players were focused.

“During the pregame, let’s just say it was not to my liking,” O’Sullivan said. “I took them into the clubhouse and laid into them a little bit.”

The memo was well received as Countryside (6-1, 3-0) extended its winning streak to four, defeating Class 7A, District 10 rival St. Petersburg 11-1, ending in six innings.

Kevin Stryker helped set the tone early, drilling an RBI double to left-center during the bottom of the second then an RBI single in the third. He finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a walk.

“(Stryker) needed a break because he has been struggling lately,” O’Sullivan said. “He needed that more than anybody because he can swing it, and I’m glad he got it on track tonight.”

Pitcher Vinny Ballantoni labored early but finished strong, striking out eight and giving up one unearned run on 73 efficient pitches.

St. Petersburg (1-4, 0-3) had the opportunity to quickly get on the board with runners at first and second with no one out during the top of the first, but Ballantoni caught Blake Bryant leaning and Ricardo Rivera attempting to steal third. Ballantoni got out of the inning unscathed after striking out Connor Lebrie and wasn’t caught in a jam the rest of the game.

“I was having a little trouble with my command,” said Ballantoni, who improved to 2-0. “I normally start off a little less productive, and it takes me a while to get adjusted. But once I do I feel like I’m unstoppable.”

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