VALRICO — After a week of relatively light hitting that culminated in a 4-3 loss to Newsome in the Saladino Tournament quarterfinals, Plant regrouped, tried to remain positive and aimed to become a bit more aggressive.
The latter was achieved Tuesday against Bloomingdale, as the Panthers collected 10 hits and 12 runs in a 12-1, six-inning game against the Saladino runnerup. There is now a four-way tie for first in Class 8A, District 7 among Plant, Bloomingdale, Wharton and Durant.
With those results, it was easy for the Panthers to be positive.
“It’s a good momentum-changer for our team coming off the loss to Newsome,” said catcher Kyle Woodford. “Going into Durant Thursday, it’s a good thing.”
Woodford led the potent Panthers’ offense with a 3-for-4 day, including a single, double and home run, in that order, for four RBIs. It was his shot over the leftfield fence in the sixth inning that put Plant (11-3, 3-2) in position to end the game early.
“He (Bloomingdale pitcher Zack Carter) was throwing his breaking ball to start off some hitters, and I kept that in the back of my mind,” Woodford said. “He didn’t do that; he threw me some fastballs, and I just took advantage of one.”
Junior Pete Alonso and freshman Kyle Tucker each contributed three RBIs. Bloomingdale (13-3, 3-2) scored its lone run in the fourth on what should have been a strikeout by Matt Sanders to end the inning, but Garrett Lorenzo came home on the passed ball. Sanders gave up no earned runs and struck out four.
The Bulls’ offense will get a boost from the return of junior Justin Ambrosino, who did not play but was reinstated to the team, coach Kris Wilken said. Ambrosino was leading Bloomingdale with his .444 average in six games before his suspension.
While Plant battles Durant to stay in first place Thursday, Bloomingdale will face Alonso, which is just one game back of the logjam.