EAST LAKE — David Paul was motivated to pitch well against East Lake on Thursday.
The Clearwater Central Catholic senior grew up playing with most of the East Lake players, so after the final out in a 4-1 win Paul jumped a little higher and put a more emphasis on his fist pump.
“This game, even though it wasn’t a conference game or anything, was the biggest game I’ve ever played in my life,” Paul said. “I’m happy I was able to go out and do my thing and our defense did their thing and we strung some hits together.”
Paul pitched a complete-game three-hitter, although he did walk five and hit two batters. Second baseman Derek Gibree had an RBI, a run scored and a spectacular defensive play in the fifth. Andrew Murphy was 3-for-4, shortstop Zuriel Collins had a nice defensive play and Brenden Overton had a hit and a run scored.
CCC, now 10-0 entering the Dunedin spring tournament, looked shaky in the first three innings Thursday.
Paul got out of trouble in the first inning when he gave up two singles. Then in the third, East Lake (10-4) scored without getting a hit.
Brad Deppermann led off with a walk. But he was caught stealing. Cameron Churchill then walked and one out later Ian Lisle was hit by a pitch. The Eagles then put on a double steal. CCC catcher Andrew Mink’s throw to second sailed into centerfield, allowing Churchill to score.
CCC got three runs in the top of the fourth. With one out and one on, Overton singled to put runners on first and second. Paul then singled off Deppermann to score Gibree and tie the game.
One out and one walk later, Nick Dohse grounded to Andrew Prozillo at second. But Prozillo bobbled the ball and it allowed two runners to score.
East Lake’s best chance to tie the game came in the fifth. The Eagles put their first two runners on, but a pickoff at second base led to the first out. Then, on a hit-and-run, Churchill grounded to second. Gibree lunged to his right to snag the grounder and start an unassisted double play to end the inning.
“That was huge,” Paul said. “As a pitcher, you love to see that.”
CCC tacked on a run in the seventh and Paul got the final three outs to seal the win.