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ST. PETERSBURG — It was touted as one of the deepest — and best — senior baseball classes in Pinellas County with 21 of the 25 players on the roster for the fifth annual Pinellas-Hillsborough all-star game having already signed with colleges.
And it was this group that helped Pinellas end years of frustration Wednesday with a 5-4 victory at Tropicana Field for its first win in the series.
“When we got together to pick this team, we felt like we had what it took to finally win,” said St. Petersburg Catholic’s John Vigue, who coached the Pinellas team. “We talked about this for a while as coaches. We felt like we needed to win.”
Pinellas did it in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 4-2 deficit to score three runs in the seventh inning.
Tarpon Springs’ Danny Robinson started the rally with a single and Northeast’s Jerrod Flanagan followed with a walk. Robinson scored on a fielder’s choice by Dunedin’s Alex Libby.
Lakewood’s Morgan Harris had the winning hit, a two-run single that scored Flanagan and Libby.
Libby scored by sliding safely before a tag was made at the plate.
Harris was named the MVP for Pinellas for his hit in his only at-bat.
“I was sitting for six innings and didn’t know I was coming in,” Harris said. “I was nervous. But I just took a deep breath and did what I had to do. It felt great to be the person who put us ahead and helped us finally win.”
King’s Javaris Reynolds was MVP for Hillsborough. He had an RBI single and scored a run.
Solid at the plate: Wharton’s Nick Kranick had a triple and scored off a sacrifice fly by Strawberry Crest’s Jordan Keys to put Hillsborough ahead 1-0 in the third inning. Kranick also had an RBI single in the fourth inning.
Highlight reel: Strawberry Crest’s Jordan Keys made the play of the game in the field for Hillsborough in the fifth inning. Keys, who was playing second base, ran back to make a diving catch off a shot from Dunedin’s Mike Tipton.
Power surge: Seminole’s Joey Krehbiel had a double in the third inning that brought home Dunedin’s Mike Tipton and Casey Turgeon for Pinellas’ only runs. But two other blasts by Krehbiel were just as memorable. In the first inning, he hit a ball that cleared 400 feet before landing just past the leftfield foul pole. In the fifth inning, Krehbiel hit a ball to the warning track in left-centerfield that was caught.
Krehbiel, who is going to USF, played third base but did not pitch because he is scheduled to start Friday’s FACA all-star game in Sebring.
Dominant performance: Osceola’s Taylor Layner was the starting pitcher for Pinellas. The left-hander, who is going to Florida State, threw two perfect innings and struck out two.
Preserving the lead: Dunedin’s Mike Clarkson and St. Petersburg Catholic’s Justin Tedder each pitched a scoreless inning in the eight and ninth to keep Pinellas’ 5-4 lead intact. Shorecrest’s Jordan Lindsay pitched a perfect inning in the seventh.
Quick turnaround: Alonso’s Matt Brandy and Mike Fahrman did not have much time to celebrate after winning the Class 6A state title Tuesday in Port St. Lucie. They were back on the field 24 hours later as starters for Hillsborough in the all-star game. Brandy was 0-for-2 and Fahrman struck out in his only at-bat.
Did you know? Class A state semifinalist Brooks-DeBartolo and Class 4A state finalist Jesuit each did not have a player on Hillsborough’s roster.