CLEARWATER — In the first game between Clearwater Central Catholic and St. Petersburg Catholic, the Barons won on a walkoff home run by Corey Baptist. In the rematch Friday, Baptist hit two more homers, but it was defense and the small ball philosophy of the Marauders that proved the difference.
Trailing by three in the bottom of the sixth, CCC chipped away and took advantage of two errors to score four runs and eventually defeat SPC 5-4. The Marauders had six hits, but only one reached the outfield. The Barons had four hits, and two were home runs.
“We don’t have a bomber, but they’re still line drives in the book,” CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. “We talk about that all the time. We’ve got to do whatever we can do to win games.”
And Friday, that meant scrapping for every run.
The Barons scored twice in the first when Baptist hit a two-run homer to left off CCC starter David Paul. The Marauders (9-5) loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the first and scored a run when Troy Olmo walked.
The Barons (11-4) threatened again in the second when they loaded the bases with two out. Joey Saunders hit a tailing line drive to right, but Britton Araujo made a diving catch to end the inning.
“Britton’s catch was huge,” Vaughan said. “He doesn’t make that catch, it’s three runs. That’s making a statement.”
Even after Baptist hit another two-run homer in the third to make it 4-1, the Marauders never sensed they were out of the game. That turned out to be true in the bottom of the sixth.
Andrew Murphy led off by getting hit by a pitch and Araujo followed with an infield hit. Derek Gibree then bunted to relief pitcher Danny Twitty, but his throw to third sailed wide. That allowed Murphy to score and make it 4-2.
With runners on second and third, John Karaphillis got the only single to the outfield that scored Araujo. Rightfielder Colin O’Keefe’s throw home was high, and Gibree scored the tying run.
Karaphillis reached third with one out, and Carter Cashman drove him in with a deep fly out to centerfield.
“My mental approach was to get something up in the zone that I could drive into the outfield,” Cashman said. “When I hit it I knew it was deep enough.”
Cashman pitched the top of the seventh and got the first two outs. When Baptist came to the plate, he was intentionally walked. Cashman then struck out Dakota Sarafin to end the game.
“I did not want to pitch to Corey,” Cashman said. “He already had two home runs. When Coach came out I just said we should walk him. The kid coming up behind him wasn’t as strong. I knew he wasn’t as big of a long ball threat.”