TARPON SPRINGS — Winning a PCAC championship is not the ultimate goal for teams representing the north and south divisions. But that was hard to tell Friday after East Lake’s convincing 12-2 win over Pinellas Park.
The Eagles (21-3) were all smiles and posed for pictures with the championship trophy on the third-base line. Over on the first-base line, the Patriots ran wind sprints and endured a stern lecture from coach Pat Russo.
“We have two goals, district and state, so we kind of downplayed the county,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said. “But really, this is one we wanted. The last two years we were 6-1 and didn’t play in the (PCAC) final because of tiebreakers. But this year we earned it.”
The Patriots were scrappy enough in the first three innings to take a 2-1 lead. Pinellas Park starter Brandon Grigsby gave up a run in the first on a Keegan Maronpot RBI single but settled down the next two innings.
The Patriots (14-10) took the lead in the top of the third when Tyree Graves scored from third on an errant pickoff throw to second base by East Lake starter Ryan Wall. Darrel Weber then had an RBI single that scored Garrett Nevitt.
But in the top of the fourth, that lead vanished for good. Grigsby gave up consecutive singles to Maronpot and Brad Deppermann, and Tyler Neuhaus followed with a single that scored Maronpot. Graves’ throw from rightfield to second base sailed into left, allowing two runs to score. Sawyer Wirth capped the four-run inning with an RBI groundout.
“We got pretty comfortable after the first time around,” said Maronpot, who was 3-for-3 with a walk. “We were swinging the bat well the whole game. We’ve been swinging freely the whole season.”