EAST LAKE — Osceola and Bishop McLaughlin used dominant pitching and one big inning each to advance to Saturday’s championship game of the Lee Byers Invitational.
Warriors junior Justin Kremer, making his first start of the season, held Tarpon Springs to two hits in a 1-0 win. In the other semifinal, Bishop McLaughlin scored three runs in the fifth inning, and Andy Olaniel and Josh Falk gave up four hits in a 4-1 win over host East Lake.
The Eagles (1-1) held a 1-0 lead after scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning. Troy Strominger came through with a two-out single to score Garrett Franklin, who doubled two batters earlier.
East Lake’s Tyler Ramsey relieved Nate Montano in the top of the fifth and started the inning by giving up a single to R.J. Perciavalle. Two outs later, Perciavalle scored on a passed ball to tie the score. After Olaniel reached on an error, Ty Cooler and Falk each added RBI singles to make it 3-1.
In the top of the sixth, Tanner Koch hit a homer to left-center for the game’s final run.
“We’re probably not as good as we played in the first game (a 7-0 win over Pinellas Park), but we’re also not as bad as we played today,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said. “We just got outcoached. We did the same thing last year and bounced back.”
The Hurricanes (2-0) had 11 hits off four East Lake pitchers.
“Our guys are a bunch of grinders and we grinded and grinded until all of the sudden some balls started to drop,” Bishop McLaughlin coach Tom LoSauro said.
In the second game, it was all about Kremer and one bad inning from the Spongers. In the top of the second, Osceola’s Keith Weisenberg hit a one-out single. Nate Stearns then reached on an error, which allowed Weisenberg to advance to third. Another error on a Jordan Ramsey grounder enabled Weisenberg to score what would end up being the winning run.
That’s because Kremer was throwing strikes and getting good defense behind him. He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth and only gave up two walks. One of those walks was to pinch hitter Marco Karay in the bottom of the seventh.
Karay reached third with two outs. Hunter Bonner then hit a high chopper off the plate that looked like it could be a run-scoring infield single. But third baseman Rickey Whiteman threw to first just in time to end the game.
“The defense was just ridiculous tonight,” Kremer said. “I’m not a strike out pitcher, so to have those guys playing well behind me was huge.”